The Road to Osteoporosis Begins in Childhood – 3 Simple Ways To Build Strong Bones in Kids

Updated: February 17, 2020

Osteoporosis is a condition that most don’t think about, or try to help, until faced with it- which is almost always later in life.

Usually a fracture from an innocent bump or gentle fall arouses a doctor’s suspicion- resulting in a bone test and a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

Then the patient becomes painfully aware that they have brittle bones, stocks up on calcium supplements and tries to reverse a problem that has been decades in the making.

I am a case in point. At 40 years of age I found out I had osteopenia (the lead-up to osteoporosis) only because I was offered a free bone test.

I was surprised and disappointed at my results, as I was very fit and have always eaten…um, decently. It was a day of reckoning, and as is typical, I’ve been taking calcium supplements ever since.

But middle age and beyond is not the best time to build strong bones. Childhood is the time to start building up maximum bone mass, so that when it peaks (usually in middle age) the bones are as dense as possible.

Because after approximately age 35 we all begin a slow decline (1% per year) in bone density. But if maximum bone mass is built up to that point, then at least there is lots to draw from after middle age.

I’m sure you’d agree that it’s poor planning to wait until the last moment to save for retirement- and it’s exactly the same with our bones!

The more bone mass your children deposit early on, the more savings they have to draw from, and the longer they will fight off osteoporosis later in their lives.

But no doubt you’re thinking that your kids are growing so fast, and so must their bones.

However, due to how growing up has changed from a generation ago, the bone facts of today’s youth are shocking:

For instance, a Mayo Clinic study published in JAMA, found that compared to 30 years ago forearm fractures had risen more than 32% in boys, and 56% in girls.

According to the study, forearm fractures in children are a predictor for hip and other serious fractures in late adulthood.

What Are The 3 Simple Ways to Build Strong Bones In Kids?

1. Limit Their TV and Computer time!
Make them go outside and play as both exercise and vitamin D have a positive effect on bone health.

Optimal blood levels of vitamin D are essential for maximum assimilation of calcium and magnesium to ensure superior bone density, strength, and healing ability.

In fact, an Italian study in 2005 indicated that maintaining recommended vitamin D intake may help bones heal faster.

2. Limit Their Soda Pop!
Soft drinks have long been suspected of leading to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate levels are high and calcium levels are low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. [1]

The phosphate content of soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi is very high, and they contain virtually no calcium. As well, kids are reaching for Coke rather than milk these days, thereby taking in less calcium than a generation ago…resulting in a double bone loss whammy! [1]

3. Increase Their Calcium Rich Foods!
Over the last 50 years the calcium in some vegetables has dropped by as much as 43%. [1]

But forcing your kids to eat almost double the veggies to make up for the shortfall will no doubt lead to an unwanted backlash of tattoos and piercings!

However, there are other calcium rich alternatives like salmon, sardines, yogurt, beans and molasses. Granted, they may not taste like filet mignon, but are very yummy- if your youngster is hungry enough.

But how do you implement these 3 Simple Ways to Build Strong Bones with your headstrong kids?

Well these tips are really beneficial for all ages. So why not turn it into a game of ‘Follow the Leader’- and the whole family will be sporting stronger bones in no time!




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This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,