Dr. Ganesh Kadhe, Director, Medical and Scientific Affairs, Abbott’s Nutrition business
Bones are the foundation for a child’s growing body. Strong bone development during childhood lays the foundation for good bone health throughout life. They provide structural support for the body, protect vital organs, and store essential minerals[i].
Today, as foods have become more accessible outside homes — at malls, restaurants, and through online food delivery, parents’ job of ensuring that their toddler is receiving the right nutrition has become tougher. While this kind of “mall” food may satiate hunger for the short-term, it is typically deficient in essential micronutrients, which in turn leads to undernourished health. Both macronutrients are important for strong bones and a healthy child. Dr. Ganesh Kadhe, Director, Medical and Scientific Affairs, Abbott’s Nutrition business shares how parents can ensure good bone health for their children through right nutrition & habits:
Nutrients for Strong Bones: A simple way of avoiding micronutrient deficiencies is to consider the ingredients, rather than the complete dish. The ingredients must have the right balance of both macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that are required in large quantities like protein, carbohydrate, fats – and can be found in foods such as cereals, millets, pulses, milk, oils, meat, fish, poultry. Micronutrients are nutrients that are required in small quantities like iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamins, and selenium – which can be found in fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and oilseeds, milk, meat, fish, poultry). Food combinations of egg sandwich with a side of fresh fruit or adding PediaSure powder in your child’s glass of milk or making a smoothie will meet both macronutrient and micronutrient needs in children
Adapt high-calcium foods: Calcium is one of the primary building blocks in bone development. It is essential in providing strength and structure to the skeleton and should be consumed in higher amounts during the preteen and teenage years as that time is crucial for bone growth. Good sources of calcium include dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, calcium-fortified plant-based milks, and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals, bread, and orange juice, combined with a balanced nutritious diet, can support children’s growth and development
Exercising frequently: While exercise benefits people of all ages, young bones respond even more to exercise than adult bones. Children and adolescents who exercise regularly have higher bone mass. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity daily and that additional physical activity would provide additional health benefits.[ii] Ideal exercises include running, jumping, ball games, competitive sports and dancing
Encouraging Outdoor Playtime: With the rise of technology and indoor entertainment options, your child may prefer to spend more time indoors. However, parents must encourage their children to spend time outdoors, as it provides numerous health benefits, including building strong bones. In addition, sunlight exposure is a natural source of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and supports bone health. Outdoor activities such as running, jumping, and playing sports can help stimulate bone growth and improve bone density. By making outdoor playtime a part of your child’s daily routine, you can help support their overall health and well-being[iii]
Ensure proper sleep: Sleep is an essential aspect of overall health and well-being, and it plays a critical role in the development of strong bones in children. Sleep duration of less than 8 hours may impair bone mass accrual, particularly during periods of rapid growth[iv] Parents must ensure their children get proper sleep. Encouraging winding down before bedtime, limiting caffeine and sugar intake, along with promoting physical activity during the day is key.