Better Bones: How to Protect Your Child from Osteoporosis

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As a parent, it is likely that osteoporosis is the last thing you worry about when it comes to your children’s health. Although osteoporosis is a disease that affects people later in life, the decisions that you make for your child when they are young can influence the likelihood your child may develop osteoporosis in the future. The following are a few guidelines that you can follow to protect your child from developing osteoporosis later in life.

Calcium and Healthy Bones

During childhood and adolescence, your child’s bones grow in density and in strength. The more bone strength and density your child has in youth, the stronger their skeleton will be for the rest of their life. Nutrition is vital for bone growth. This includes making sure that your child has a sufficient amount of calcium intake. It is recommended that a child between 9 to 18 years have approximately 13 mg of calcium daily. Between the age of four and eight, the recommended dose is 1,000 mg daily.

Fortify Your Child’s Bones with Vitamin D

While you may have heard a lot about the importance of calcium in your child’s bone growth, you may not have heard as much about the importance of vitamin D. Vitamin D is what allows your body to absorb calcium. Vitamin D comes from your diet as well as sun exposure. Not getting enough vitamin D can put your child at risk of developing rickets, a disease that leads to the softening of the bones. Vitamin D can be found in fortified milk as well as through vitamin supplements.

Exercise and Strong Bones

Exercise is essential for proper bone development. The best exercises for children are those require them to move their own body weight. These include things like basketball, soccer, and track and field. Monitor your child’s diet, especially when they are engaging in sports.

Prevent Extreme Weight Loss

Teenage girls who exercise excessively can lose weight to the point where their body stops producing sufficient amounts of estrogen. This in turn can lead to bone loss at a time when a young woman should be reaching their peak bone density.

Rare Cases of Juvenile Osteoporosis

Juvenile osteoporosis is rare and is often caused by an underlying medical condition. Some medical conditions that cause osteoporosis in juveniles include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • IBS
  • Cystic Fibrosis

Juvenile osteoporosis can also be caused by lifestyle factors, such as inadequate nutrition, excessive weight loss, extended periods of inactivity, smoking, and alcohol use by juveniles. Osteoporosis treatment often includes working with a physical therapist, increased exercise, increased calcium intake, and an increase in Vitamin D intake.

Throughout childhood, your child is building up their bone mass. This process continues until they reach the age of 30. The stronger your child’s bones are early in life, the lower their risk of osteoporosis later in life. By monitoring your child’s nutrition, including intake of vitamin D and calcium, by encouraging your child to exercise, and by monitoring drastic weight loss, especially in teenage girls, you can go a long way in protecting your child from developing osteoporosis.

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