There are numerous benefits to healthy bones. There are not just the support that keeps us standing, walking, and keeping our limbs together. They’re a source of our immune cells, they are full of blood vessels, and are very much alive. By the time you grow up, the initial set of 270 bones reduces to 206 – 217, as they fuse over time until late puberty.
How does this happen, and what factors are included? What should an average parent know about bone growth in children? Continue reading to find out!
How do children’s bones grow?
The secret to bone growth in children lies in cartilage. This is a dense, elastic tissue that is mostly found in joints, ribs, and other parts of the human skeleton. Cartilage grows with the rest of the body and turns into bone once children are fully grown. This usually happens in middle to late puberty, and by age 16 – 17 all cartilage turns into bone.
What age do children’s bones harden?
This usually happens in middle to late puberty. Girls grow fully developed bones around ages 13–15 and boys by the time they turn 15 – 17 years. This can vary due to genetic and nutritional factors, so it’s essential to stimulate the development of healthy bones.
How can I strengthen my child’s bones?
There are three essential ingredients that you can give to your children to ensure healthy bone growth:
This is a vital mineral that is the very foundation of human bones. It’s found in abundance in many types of food:
- dairy products, from milk, sour cream, cheese, and yogurt.
- green vegetables, such as cabbage, okra, and broccoli. However, you won’t find it in spinach – although it’s high on iron, so don’t eliminate it from the menu!
- soya beans, tofu, plant-based drinks, like rice milk and soya-based milk and yogurt with added calcium,
- a variety of nuts, such as walnuts, peanuts, chestnuts, cashews.
- bread and pastry with whole grain wheat.
- fish, such as sardines and pilchards.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in bone growth, as it regulates the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients keep bones and teeth healthy, and muscles in good shape. A lack of vitamin D can lead to serious issues, like rickets, so it’s crucial to eat foods rich in vitamin D:
- Herring and sardines
- Cod liver oil, which is a fairly popular supplement
- Canned tuna
- Egg yolks.
- Fortified foods (for example orange juice with added vitamin D, dairy products etc).
This is where your kids need to put all the elements together. It’s scientifically proven that a number of exercises benefit bone growth, density, and overall health of muscles and bone tissue. Surprisingly, even jumping on trampolines and using swings to be found in Uptown Jungle in Avondale, AZ can help improve bone health – even astronauts use similar equipment to prepare for zero gravity conditions and to recover after space missions!
The best bone building exercises
Resistance training and weight bearing are known to produce best results with bone strengthening. What does weight bearing exactly mean? It involves working against gravity, and examples are numerous: from light strolling through the park, to hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, running around, and dancing. Weightlifting is also beneficial for bones. Other types of workouts, like cycling and swimming can help build strong muscles and cardiovascular health, but are not necessarily great for bones.