Building bones for life
Childhood is the biggest opportunity to build strong bones for life. That's why it's so important for growing kids to get enough calcium, exercise and vitamin D.
How can kids get enough calcium?
A calcium-rich diet during childhood helps maximise peak bone mass and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life.
Dairy foods including milk, cheese and yoghurt, are best known for calcium, however they also contain a range of other essential nutrients for bone health including protein, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
Milk, cheese and yoghurt belong to the dairy food group - one of the five food groups recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
As children grow, their requirements from the dairy food group grow too.
Which activities are good for strong bones?
Running and jumping around outside is not only fun for kids but also helps strengthen their bones. Just like muscles, bones grow stronger and harder when they are exercised. Known as ‘weight bearing exercise’, this includes any exercise where your feet and legs carry your weight.
What's the best source of vitamin D?
Another ingredient that is essential for building healthy, strong bones is vitamin D. Kids absorb vitamin D best from safe sun exposure.
During summer in the southern parts of Australia, and all year round in the north, most of us need a few minutes a day of sun exposure to an area of skin like our face, arms and hands. In winter in the southern parts of Australia, most of us need about two to three hours per week to help with our vitamin D levels. Osteoporosis Australia’s fact sheet on vitamin D provides detailed recommendations.