Your bones grow all through your childhood and they continue to get denser until you are somewhere between 18-25 years old. The denser your bones are once you stop growing the more you are protected against the disease osteoporosis when you are older.
Bone health is really important and there are a few simple things that you can do to make sure your bones are as strong and protected as they can be.
In order to build strong bones you must be getting vitamins and minerals from eating a healthy, balance diet.
There are certain nutrients that are particularly important for building strong, healthy bones:
- Our bodies naturally contain calcium, almost of all of this is in our bones and teeth and it is what makes them strong and hard. Most of the calcium that adults have is made when we are children and teenagers.
- Your bones grow quicker during puberty than any other time in your life, which is why it is so important to make sure you are getting enough calcium during these years. For boys puberty occurs roughly between the age of 12-16 years and for girls between 11-15 years.
- The recommended calcium intake for children and teenagers aged from 11-18 is 800-1,000mg compared with 700mg for adults.
- Examples of foods that contain lots of calcium can be found here.
- Vitamin D is important for bones as it helps our bodies to absorb calcium.
- We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight during the summer months. The only problem is in the UK we don’t get enough sunlight the rest of the year.
- There are only a few foods that have useful amounts of vitamin D, including oily fish, eggs and foods that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as cereals and spreads.
- Vitamin D tablets should be taken as a supplement to your diet, especially in the months of September-May and they can be bought from pharmacies and bigger supermarkets.
- Daily physical activity is important for your bone health, and it is equally important to spend as little time as you can sitting e.g. watching tv or playing video games.
- You should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, this doesn’t have to all be in one go.
- On at least 3 of these days you should be doing vigorous (exercise that stops you from being able to say more than a couple of words without stopping for a breath) activities to strengthen muscles and bones.
To see what types of classes and opportunities are on in your area look here: