Optimal nutrition in adolescence is vitally important to reach peak bone mass density and stave off osteoporosis and fragile or brittle bones which can easily fracture.
Calcium is essential to strong dense bones.
50% of 14 - 18 year old males and nearly 80% of 14 - 18 year old females do not get enough dietary calcium.
Calcium is essential to life and plays a major role in many physiological processes including neuromuscular and cardiac function - think muscle contractions of the beating heart. So if there is not enough calcium circulating in the blood, calcium will be resorbed or literally stolen from the bones. A beating heart is more important than strong bones.
Adolescence is the period in which, with optimal nutrition, our teens have the potential to reach peak bone mass density. In other words it is the time when essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, fluoride, potassium and sulfate combine and crystallise to form a complex web like matrix that creates strong, dense bones.
“Bone mass increases by about sevenfold from birth to puberty and a further threefold during adolescence.”
Teens need 1300mg calcium every day to reach peak bone mass.
Dietary calcium requirements
1-3 yr 500 mg/day
4-8 yr 700 mg/day
9-11 yr 1,000 mg/day
12-18 yr 1,300 mg/day
*RDI - recommended daily intake
Requirements may be higher for individuals who exercise and subsequently sweat a lot as calcium is lost in sweat.
Calcium sources include the well known dairy group which also provides protein and essential fat soluble vitamins.
Dairy free whole food sources from high to low include fortified tofu, fish with bones such as sardines, canned salmon, anchovies, sesame seeds, tahini, chickpeas, chia seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, dried figs, seaweed,& tempeh, almonds, nut milks, slow cooked meat and fish bone broths (and casseroles made with bone in meats).
Factors negatively influencing calcium absorption or increasing urinary calcium loss
+you can prep vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains to reduce anti nutrients that bind minerals such as calcium
Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption and can be obtained from minimal exposure to sunlight. So run and jump and cycle and swim outside.
Oestrogen is a hormone responsible for encouraging bone growth and a delay in the onset of menses due to inadequate nutrition can also inhibit the strengthening of bones and lead to early onset osteoporosis. This condition is more common in young female teens who are heavily involved in sports and/ or have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa.
For more on teen and tween nutrition please take a look at the teen and tween yoga and cooking workshop Wednesday 23 September 9.15 - 3.15pm.
"Froco" slang for the popular $1 frozen coke sold by 2 of the mega world dominating hamburger chains.
Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting to a gorgeous group of year 11 Food technology students. I opened with some stunningly horrid stats (source ABS 2008 & 2012)
63% of Australian adults are overweight (38%) or obese (27%).
25% of Australian children are overweight or obese.
A staggering 280 Aussies develop diabetes every day! (85% type 2 diabetes)
In 2012 a tiny 6.8% of the Australian population ate 5 serves of vegetables a day.
Is this possibly one of the reasons why - A whopping 35% of total energy consumed came from the 'discretionary foods’ group (its not even meant to be a group!) That’s the high fat, sugary, salty foods (41% in 14 - 18 year olds.) Pretty?
My brief was to talk to the importance of adolescent nutrition and not becoming one of the above statistics. This, I did, noting the best foods to eat for various teenage predicaments including sexier hair, perfect skin and hotter bodies - these are the quandaries that Cosmo Girl tries to solve for our young teens so not wanting to disappoint my young audience I too tackled the important issues.
We also covered the importance of calcium to reach peak bone density; foods to enhance muscle strength and stamina to beat their rivals in the netball grand finals; the performance enhancing powers of complex carbohydrates such as fresh vegetables, including starchy tubers like sweet potato, fruit, whole grains and legumes; the blood sugar balancing magic of whole food proteins (actual meat, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, fish, dairy, nuts & seeds etc) and the satiating and anti inflammatory effects of healthy fats, especially the omega 3 fatty acids from fish, seeds and nuts.
Where we came unstuck was with the afore mentioned mega burger chain and their $1 frozen cokes - I just assumed that these bright young things would steer clear of the Golden Arches - I was wrong. They all knew about that “greasy - gotta brush your teeth right now” mouth feel you get after a burger and chips - this feel I suspect is from trans fats (the very worst kind of inflammatory fat.)
But the main draw card was the $1 Frocos, which contain 10 teaspoons of sugar and that’s the regular. Not so great for sexy hair, perfect skin, hotter bodies, peak bone density or a full mouth of your own teeth. If you’re an avid fan (of mine) you may recall in a previous post Are you really eating too much sugar? that the WHO recommends a maximum of 6 teaspoons a day of added sugar. I therefore pose the question “Is it even ethical for food manufacturers to sell these products at such ridiculously low prices clearly targeting our budget vulnerable teens?”
The girls empathetic to my incredulity, promised that they did not drink the whole thing (remind anyone of the politician who did not draw back?) Bless them!
Obviously the occasional Froco will not harm this seemingly health conscious group but what about the 25% of Australian kids who are overweight and obese and the fact that 41% of our adolescent’s kilojoules come from the nutrient poor “occasional foods group?” We can not watch over them every minute of the day but we can lead by example and make it easy for them to choose wisely at home by crowding out our pantries and fridges with real whole food, full of health enhancing goodness.
If you need help convincing your teens not to be a statistic (and gift them with a wonderful cooking and yoga experience), I am running a teenage yoga and cooking workshop with Lizzie Taylor from Yoga Healthy on Wednesday 23 September where we’ll tackle these issues and some strengthening and mental health enhancing yoga practices. Or perhaps you'd prefer to attend The nourished lunchbox yourself on Monday 7 September at 11am for wonderful recipes and inspiration on the lunchbox front.