There is no time in life when a person needs more calcium than during the tween and teen years. Why? During those few years, teens accumulate more than 25% of their TOTAL bone mass. By the time a teen finishes his growth spurts at around age 17, they've accumulated about 90% of their adult bone mass.
The Bad News: Teens Don't Get Enough Calcium!
Past age 11, the majority of us don't get the calcium we need. 75% of teen boys and 90% of teen girls don't get enough calcium. National health experts call this a "calcium crisis"--if the bones aren't built to their optimum strength during the growing years, they are more prone to fractures and osteoporosis later in life.
If you've got a teen at home, you can probably relate. Our house has milk drinkers on both ends of the spectrum. One stopped drinking milk years ago when he started having problems with lactose intolerance, the other probably has the strongest bones in the neighborhood because he drinks a quart of milk a day!
So how does my non-milk drinking son get his calcium? Here's his typical calcium intake and sources:
At Breakfast: 10 oz of skim milk mixed with 1 packet of Carnation Instant Breakfast (with a Lactaid chaser): 575 mg calcium
Snack: Sandwich with 2 oz of Brie on French bread: 110 mg calcium
Snack: 1-4 oz Danon Activia yogurt: 150 mg calcium
Snack/Dinner 16 oz Tropicana Calcium fortified orange juice: 600 mg calcium
Total Calcium for the Day: 1435 mg: 110% of the DRI for calcium for teenagers
Activity also Important!
Weight bearing physical activity causes new bone tissue to form-- which makes bones stronger.
What's Considered Weight Bearing?
Playing team sports, such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball
Older teenagers can build even more bone strength through weight training, but they should check with a health care provider before starting any type of training.
Ten Ways to Get Your Kid off the Couch
- Walk the dog
- Shoot some hoops
- Use a punching bag
- Ride his bike to a friend's instead of getting a ride
- Play active video games: Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Tennis, Baseball or Golf, Wii Fit
- Do household chores: vacuuming, sweeping, mowing the lawn
- Join a team--the YMCA has teams that stress having fun more than winning.
- Jump on the trampoline
- Take a hike
- Give the whole family a pedometer and challenge each other to increase their steps.
Stay Tuned for Tomorrow's Post, when I'll talk about vegetarian sources of calcium, too.