Our bones and joints make the basic support structure of our body and play a vital role in protecting our organs, maintaining our muscles and storing calcium thus, bone care is essential for our bodies. Parents are often concerned about their child’s physical and mental well-being and while doing so they cannot miss out on building their child’s bone health.
Your child’s bones grow bigger and stronger during childhood and adolescence and bone density develops rapidly during this time. Once your child reaches adulthood i.e., the age group of 18-25, he/she achieves “peak bone mass” and their bone density stops developing as 90% of their bone mass is already developed thus, it becomes essential for parents to include healthy and nutritious foods in their child’s diet.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sagar Bhattad, Consultant – Paediatric Immunology and Rheumatology at Aster CMI Hospital in Bangalore, highlighted, “Weak bones not only increase the risk of injuries and fractures but also lead to diseases like osteoporosis and rickets in children at an early age. Encouraging your child to adopt a healthy lifestyle and ensuring that their body gets all the vital nutrients can help them in maintaining healthy and hearty bone health.”
He recommended some essential tips that can help you in maintaining good bone health for your child:
1. Increase your Vitamin D intake
Vitamin D plays an essential role in improving your bone health and helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common among both youngsters and adults. Several studies have highlighted how low vitamin D levels lead to lower bone density and increase the risk of bone loss. Hence, an abundance of Vitamin D can protect your child from bone-related diseases. There are several easy steps through which you can increase your vitamin D intake –
● Increased exposure to sunlight and ensure that your child gets at least 5 to 10 minutes of sunlight for two to three days a week on your hands, legs, and face.
● Encourage your child to consume food supplements like cheese, liver, and fatty fish. These can also be given to children in sandwiches and pasta etc.
2. Ensure your child gets enough Calcium
It is common knowledge that calcium plays an important role in bone formation and is vital for strengthening muscles and maintaining heart health. Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt are powerhouses of calcium. As parents, one must ensure that their child consumes at least 2 glasses of milk daily which is essential for their bone development. Additionally, you must include a bowl of curd/yoghurt in your child’s meal at least once a day and should also include green vegetables like spinach, kale and okra in their diet. Apart from providing Vitamin C, orange is also known as a good source of calcium and is a tastier way to increase your child’s calcium intake. Other common sources of calcium are soybeans and its products like soy milk, soy yoghurt and fish.
3. Vitamin K and Magnesium for proper bone density
It is found that people with higher amounts of Vitamin K and Magnesium have healthy bone density and are less susceptible to bone diseases like rickets and osteoporosis. These vitamins work with calcium to make your child’s bones grow stronger. Green vegetables like spinach, kale, cabbage, and green sprouts are good sources of Vitamin K and Magnesium and therefore instilling a habit of eating cereals and a hearty breakfast in your child at an early age can help them get all the required amount of magnesium and other nutrients.
4. Encourage your child to skip the automated life for a healthier future
In the digital age today, everything is accessible with a press of a button on our phones. As more children are getting addicted to mobile phones and computer games, they are now more confined to their couches than ever before and tend to avoid physical interactions with their friends. Such habits are increasing the burden of bone diseases among children and have heightened the need for physical activity for them. Activities like walking, jogging, running, and climbing staircases can help your child in building stronger bones and are essential for keeping their mind and body active. These exercises can help the body in stimulating the growth of bone cells. Lastly, if your child is facing any severe bone ailments and is showing signs that do not go away after several days/ weeks then you must consult your doctor.