• Nutrition

Bone Development

A boy smiling flexing his arm

Strong bones make strong bodies

Did you know there are 206 bones in the adult body? They provide structure for the body and protection for the organs, and they make it possible to walk, run and move about. Skeletal development is most rapid in infancy, and bones grow and strengthen in childhood. They must last a lifetime, so you want them to start healthy and strong.

Peak bone mass is achieved between the ages of 10 and 18. Children with lower bone mass may be at greater risk for fractures. Building bone requires intake of calcium on an ongoing basis. Calcium is absorbed into the bone to create a kind of ‘bank account’. Because bone mass decreases in all adults (some experts say at about age 30) the more your child builds early on in life, the stronger their bones will be later.

The nutrients bones need

Certain nutrients are especially important for developing a strong, healthy skeleton for good growth. These include:

  • Calcium – responsible for construction, formation, and maintenance of bones and teeth
  • Vitamin D – promotes calcium absorption and helps to form and maintain strong bones
  • Phosphorus – combines with calcium to form calcium phosphate, which is the substance that gives the skeleton rigidity
  • Magnesium – approximately 50% of total body magnesium is found in bone and contributes to the physical structure of the bone

Tips for Healthy Bones

Assuring that your child gets the nutrients they need is important for their growth and development. Feeding issues can interfere if your child’s nutrition isn’t being absorbed properly, or they resist feedings because of associated discomfort.

  • Don't forget milk and other calcium rich foods are part of your child's diet every day (600 mg/day for those aged 4-6 years, and 700 mg/day for 7-9 year olds).
  • Balance your diet - Include vitamins and minerals necessary for bone health and a well-balanced diet.
  • Absorb all you can - Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption.
  • Be active - In addition to a healthy diet, exercise is fundamental for bone development. Provide the opportunity for age-appropriate, safe physical activity on a regular basis.