Monday, October 28, 2013

Healthy Bone Development among Children and Adolescents

Bone development is one of the earliest processes that take place in the human body, with long-term effects on the body's health throughout our lives. Therefore, ensuring proper bone development during childhood and adolescence is highly important.

The growth of the human skeletal system begins as early as the third week of pregnancy, and the process of Ossification (the process in which tissue becomes bone) continues until the birth itself. This video examines the process of early bone development:

Bones usually keep developing in the body until the third decade in a person's life. However, as much as 80% of the bone mass in the body is acquired by the time a person reaches 20 (among men) or 18 (among women). The development of the bones during the first two decades of a person's life influences not only the person's growth (as strong bones support the growing body), but also the strength of the bones during the rest of the person's life.
Problems as Osteoporosis (the deterioration of bones to fragility) among middle-aged and elderly people can be the result of improper bone development at a young age.

Bone fractures can influence children's growth. However, the bone development is also strongly influenced by nutrition. A sufficient amount of Calcium and Vitamin D is essential for proper bone development and growth among children and adolescents.
Growth problems as a result of malnutrition and shortage of Calcium in the body are common in third-world countries; however unbalanced diets in developed countries can have a similar effect. Making sure that a child's diet includes enough Calcium is essential. Important sources of Calcium are milk and dairy products. It is important to educate children to consume milk and dairy products from an early age (not a difficult task, since both come in a variety of tastes and flavors). Some health conditions such as lactose intolerance may require turning to other sources of Calcium or to supplementation in order to make sure that the child gets enough Calcium. The following video offers tips on the subject of children and Calcium consumption:

Paying attention to adolescents' eating habits is equally important. New factors such as changing eating habits and diets (especially with girls) come into play , factors that may influence intake of important nutritional elements. Diets are not necessarily bad, but when they involve consuming less milk in all forms, suboptimal Calcium intake may occur. It is important to explain to adolescents the importance of Calcium consumption, and suggest to them to incorporate low-fat dairy products in any diet they undertake.

Additional Information:
Kids and Their Bones: A Guide for Parents
Skeletal Development
Nutrients Required for Healthy Bones

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