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Bone Health: It’s Not Just for Seniors


When it comes to health and performance, bone health does not draw nearly the attention it deserves. That’s unfortunate says Diane Schneider, the author of The Complete Book of Bone Health, since paying attention to bone health early in life can pay dramatic dividends down the road. Schneider, an expert on bone health and a former professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, says our genes determine 60 to 80 percent of our bone health.

By the age of 18, nearly 95 percent of bone mass is in place, which speaks volumes about the need for children to consume adequate calcium and Vitamin D. We reach peak bone mass in our late 20s and early 30s before starting upon a gradual decline that can result in fractures and osteoporosis. Schneider likens bone loss to termite damage since it’s a gradual erosion over many years that’s often not evident until there’s major structural issues. But there’s much we can do to make the most of our framework well into our senior years.

1. Do high-impact activities.

Training not only improves mobility and stability, thus making you able to endure and avoid falls and fractures, it also strengthens bones. Schneider says high-impact sports like basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics are actually good for the bones, stimulating the growth of new bone cells, though of course the tradeoff can be strain on the joints. Solution? Interval training. “The bones like repetitive bursts of high-intensity work,” Schneider says. “You want to have some high strain followed by rest rather than the continuous stress you get from long-distance running.”

2. Keep up the calcium.

Kids don’t drink milk as routinely as they did a generation ago, and Schneider says that’s a concern because they might not be receiving enough calcium. Kids 9 to 18 need to have four eight-ounce glasses of milk a day. One glass provides 300 mg of calcium—as opposed to 100 mg from a serving of green leafy vegetables such as kale, turnip greens, and collard greens, none of which tend to be kids favorites. Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream can provide some calcium, which also can be found in calcium-fortified cereals, orange juice, and bread. “It’s tough for kids to get adequate calcium without some of it coming through milk,” Schneider says.

3. Don’t forget your vitamin D.

Vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin, is also important for healthy bones. It occurs naturally in few foods, a group that includes oily fish such as wild salmon, halibut, and sardines. “As far as supplements go, vitamin D is one of the best in terms of getting something that’s not always readily available in food,” Schneider says.

About The Author

Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Tags: Vitamins, Nutrients, Youth Fitness, Family, Health, Disease