NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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March is for Strong Bones

March is for Strong Bones

March, National Nutrition Month, is a great time to think of all things related to nutrition – including how nutrition affects bone health. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone density, increasing their risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.

Why is bone health important? Bone health is important so that your bones will be healthy and strong throughout your lifetime.  It is especially important to build strong and healthy bones in the childhood and teen years to avoid osteoporosis and other bone problems later in life. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones are fragile, making them fracture or break much easier. Taking care of your bones when you’re young will help prevent problems in the future,

Young people in childhood and tweeb group have calcium needs that they can’t make up for later in life. In the years of peak skeletal growth, teenagers build more than 25 percent of adult bone. By the time teens finish their growth spurts around age 17, 90 percent of their adult bone mass is established.

Your body continually removes and replaces small amounts of calcium from your bones. If your body removes more calcium than it replaces, your bones will become weaker and have a greater chance of breaking.


Calcium is found in a variety of foods. Low-fat and fat-free milk and other dairy products are great sources of calcium because of they have so much of it. Tweens and teens can get most of their daily calcium from 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk, but they also need additional servings of calcium to get the 1,300 mg necessary for strong bones.

Other reasons low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products are great sources of calcium include:

*     - Low-fat and fat-free milk has lots of calcium with little or no fat.

*     - The calcium in low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products is easy for the body to absorb and in a form that gives the body easy access to the calcium.

*     - Low-fat and fat-free milk has added vitamin D, which is important for helping your body better absorb calcium.

*     - In addition to calcium, milk and dairy products provide other essential nutrients that are important for optimal bone health and development.

In addition to low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products, there are other good sources of calcium, including:

-       Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, and bok choy

*     -  Foods with calcium added, such as calcium-fortified tofu, orange juice, soy beverages, and breakfast cereals or breads

Also remember, bones are living tissue. Weight-bearing physical activity causes new bone tissue to form, which makes bones stronger. This kind of physical activity also makes muscles stronger. When muscles push and tug against bones during physical activity, bones and muscles become stronger. By the time we hit our 30s, we stop naturally building bone mass and start losing it. Counteract this with anything that forces your body to defy gravity. Activities include dancing, jogging, tennis, even stair climbing. Make sure to avoid escalators and elevators!

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