Why should I be concerned about building strong bones in my children?
people have compared the skeleton to a savings bank. Your child can
deposit calcium into his or her bone bank account to use in later years
when the body may need to take calcium from the skeleton. The best time
for your child to build up his or her bone bank account is
from childhood to young adulthood. Bones build at the fastest
rate between the ages of 9 and 18 with peak bone mass reached between the ages of 16 and 25. Peak bone mass is when the skeleton is its strongest and
contains the most bone mineral, especially calcium. There are actions
that you can take to help your child reach his or her peak bone mass.
How much calcium should my child consume?
calcium requirements change in the early years to reflect your growing
child's needs, and the maximum requirements for calcium are between the
ages of 9 and 18 when the bone bank is building up at the fastest rate.
|1 - 3
|4 - 8
|9 - 18
(Institute of Medicine (IOM), 2010)
How can I make sure that my child gets the recommended amount of calcium?
are many easy ways to help your child get the recommended calcium in his or her
diet. Children can get calcium by consuming three to four
servings of calcium-rich foods daily. It is a good idea to include a calcium source at each meal
or snack. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, calcium-rich
non-dairy foods, and calcium-fortified foods.
Your child can get the recommended calcium in his or her diet, even if he or she is lactose intolerant,
allergic to milk. or following a strict vegetarian diet. If your child has
lactose intolerance, lactase enzyme replacement taken along with dairy products
or dairy products with lactase enzyme added are ways to get all of the calcium in dairy foods without the symptoms.
your child is allergic to milk or is following a strict vegetarian
diet, he/she can get calcium by consuming non-dairy beverages
with calcium added (such as fortified rice milk, fortified soymilk,
fortified citrus juice) as well as calcium rich non-dairy foods. Make
sure to shake calcium fortified beverages before serving to
prevent the calcium from settling on the bottom of the container.
How much vitamin D does my infant need to build strong bones?
is important to talk to your infant's pediatrician about
vitamin D needs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all
infants consume 400 IU per day beginning at birth. This
is important to prevent vitamin D deficiency (rickets) and to build
The following information will help
you be sure that your infant is getting the 400 IU of Vitamin D
recommended each day:
-If your baby is breastfed, it is important to
know that breastmilk is low in vitamin D. That is why all
exclusively breastfed babies need to be given a supplement of
400 IU of vitamin D per day. All formula
is fortified with 100 IU of Vitamin D per 8 ounces. Infants need to
consume at least 32 ounces of formula to get the
recommended 400 IU of vitamin D per day. Until consuming at least 32
ounces of vitamin D fortified formula, a vitamin D supplement may be recommended for bottlefed
- A daily multivitamin supplement containing 400
IU of vitamin D is often prescribed by healthcare providers when
supplemental vitamin D is needed. A supplement is needed until
breastfed babies are weaned to consume at least 32 ounces of vitamin D
fortified formula (or if over 12 months if weaned to
consume at least 32 ounces of vitamin D fortitied cow's milk).
How much vitamin D does my child and adolescent (1 to 19 years of age) need to build strong bones?
childhood and adolescence it is recommended that your child/adolescent consumes 600 IU of vitamin D each day. Milk always provides 100 IU of vitamin D per 8 ounce glass along with other bone building nutrients. Other sources that have vitamin D added include fortified orange juice, almond,coconut, rice and soy beverages. It is important to read the label to make sure vitamin D is added.
Most children and adolescents require multivitamins to reach the 600 IU of vitamin D recommended.
Is exercise important for my child's bone health?
physical activity is absolutely necessary in order for your child to
build strong bones. It is known that the greatest impact of exercise on
the skeleton occurs in children before puberty but the benefits of
exercise continue throughout life. We do know that weight-bearing
exercise places physical stress on the body, and that bones like
muscles respond to stress by becoming bigger and stronger. However,
like muscles, bones weaken if not used. Therefore, it is important that
you encourage your child to be active for at least 60 minutes each day.
Exercise that involves jumping may be a particularly effective way to
increase your child's bone mass.
The importance of safety for your child's bone health
is important that you keep your child's bones safe. Safety strategies
to protect bones are important for children of all ages. It is
imperative for all children to protect their bones and overall health
by wearing seatbelts in any moving vehicle and by using appropriate protective equipment when participating in sports.
What is the SNEAKER© Project?
SNEAKER© Project is a nutrition education program designed to provide
culturally sensitive information to English, Spanish, and Chinese
speaking children and their families in New York City.
2003, the New York State Attorney General’s Office awarded Hospital for
Special Surgery, the Metro New York NYSOPEP Regional Center, the
resources to implement a program focused on “the improvement of the
health and/or nutrition of New York State citizens and/or the
advancement of nutritional, dietary or agricultural science."
New York NYSOPEP Regional Center has conducted several SNEAKER©
Programs at elementary schools, community centers and not-for-profit
organizations, reaching over 2,000 New York City Children. Throughout
it all, the mission of the SNEAKER© Project was to reinforce the
following nutrition information:
- To appreciate the importance of calcium intake and the various forms of calcium
- To understand the value of consuming whole grain and other high fiber foods
- To recognize the perceived versus real amounts of sugar hidden in certain foods and beverages
- To learn the definition of portion control and understand portion sizes
- To identify healthy food options for the school cafeteria, fast food restaurants and home
Sneaker Project at Hospital for Special Surgery invites you and your
child to visit the fun, interactive nutrition education website by
clicking on the following link: