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
- oxalates+ and phytates+ in vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts
- high sodium (salt) consumption
- low vitamin D exposure
- high protein diets
- ketogenic diets
- caffeine consumption
- high sugar consumption
+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.