Osteoporosis is a potentially debilitating condition. It causes degradation of the bones, leading to stooped posture and a very high risk of fractures. You may even need osteoporosis treatments yourself, and you’re wondering what you can do to help your children avoid this painful condition. Fortunately, childhood is the ideal time to work on preventing osteoporosis.
The minerals needed to prevent osteoporosis are almost exclusively brought into the body through food. Dietary calcium and vitamin D are essential to building strong bones in youth. Make sure your kids eat plenty of healthy dairy foods, and ask their doctor if a multivitamin would be beneficial. Kids who stockpile plenty of calcium in their bones become adults with stronger bones more capable of fighting off osteoporosis.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
We think often about the problem of overweight kids, and it is important to keep obesity at bay. Being overweight can exacerbate arthritis and signal that the body is consuming unhealthy calories instead of essentials like calcium and vitamin D. However, very low weight can be unhealthy, as well. Generally poor nutrition erodes the body’s supply of calcium and prevents it from building enough strength to prevent osteoporosis. Overeating blocks good nutrients by crowding them out with bad ones; undereating simply prevents your body from receiving good nutrients.
Participate in Weight-Bearing Exercise
Healthy bones develop from exercise. The body reinforces the skeleton in order to tolerate the hard work of exercise. Weight training is ideal because it forces the body to make those reinforcements more effectively than simple aerobic exercise like walking or running. Clear any exercise program with your child’s doctor first.
Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco
Excessive alcohol can degrade bone, so teach your kids at an early age about the health effects of alcohol. Show good habits yourself by exercising moderation and self-control in your own alcohol consumption, and model for them by giving up tobacco if you smoke. It will improve your own health, teach your kids to avoid smoking, and eliminate their exposure to secondhand smoke.
Osteoporosis can create many difficulties for us in old age. For adults, the battle is uphill to try to prevent or control osteoporosis. For our kids, though, there is time to prevent it altogether. With good habits in nutrition, exercise, and overall health, your children can lay the foundation now for good bone health in the future, enabling them to enjoy their senior years without undue worry about injuries or poor posture.