Juvenile Bone Health Kids and Their Bones: A Guide for Parents

How Can I Help Keep My Kids' Bones Healthy?

The same healthy habits that keep your kids going and growing will also benefit their bones. One of the best ways to encourage healthy habits in your children is to be a good role model yourself. Believe it or not, your kids are watching, and your habits, both good and bad, have a strong influence on theirs.

The two most important lifelong bone health habits to encourage now are proper nutrition and plenty of physical activity.

Eating for healthy bones means getting plenty of foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Most kids get enough vitamin D from sunlight (or from foods like egg yolks or fortified milk), but most do not get enough calcium in their diets to help ensure optimal peak bone mass. Are your kids getting enough calcium?

Recommended Calcium Intakes
AgeAmount of calcium
(milligrams)
Infants
Birth to 6 months
6 months to 1 year

210
270
Children/Young Adults
1 to 3 years
4 to 8 years
9 to 18 years

500
800
1,300
Adult Women and Men
19 to 50 years
50+

1,000
1,200
Pregnant or Lactating Women
18 years or younger
19 to 50 years

1,300
1,000

Source: National Academy of Sciences, 1997.

Calcium is found in many foods, but the most common source is milk and other dairy products. Drinking one 8-oz glass of milk provides 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium, which is about one-third of the recommended intake for younger children and about one-fourth of the recommended intake for teens. In addition, milk supplies other minerals and vitamins needed by the body. The chart on the next page lists the calcium content for several high-calcium foods and beverages. Your kids need several servings of these foods each day to meet their need for calcium.

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