As parents, we want our children to get all the nutrients they need for healthy growth. But one question that often comes up is whether or not kids need to drink milk for strong bones to develop.
Calcium is an essential mineral that helps in the development of strong bones. It provides structural support to the body’s bones and teeth.
Most calcium comes from dairy products. So, naturally, milk is an integral part of a child’s diet. However, calcium is not the only thing needed for strong bones; vitamins C, D, B12, K, carotenoids and minerals are also necessary.
Does Milk Make Strong Bones?
Milk is a source of calcium, but many other sources of calcium are more effective in promoting bone growth and development. These include leafy green vegetables, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Some children may have low vitamin D levels and may not be able to absorb any additional benefits from milk. In that case, it would be better to rely on other foods like soy, almond milk, oysters or salmon for bone health benefits instead.
There is conflicting data regarding bone strength for kids and milk consumption. Some studies show that bone density from milk sources may be overstated, although other studies indicate the opposite.
A drop in dairy product consumption coupled with an increased intake of other foods may enhance bone development in lactose-intolerant children.
Other Food for Strong Bones
The key to strong bones is a healthy diet that includes foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamins such as vitamin C, D and K have been shown to reduce bone deterioration in adults and increase bone density. Foods rich in calcium also help improve the strength of bones because calcium helps maintain the balance between the minerals needed for healthy bones, such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and fluoride. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are all sources of bone-strengthening vitamins and calcium.
However, a significant majority of the world is lactose intolerant, so it is important to find non-dairy foods like certain fruits and vegetables that can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and increase bone strength.
Let Your Kids Run Around
Exercise is essential for children’s growth and physical well-being, so aside from just drinking milk, let them run around as well. Studies show that early physical activity is a better indicator of bone health than dairy intake. Physical activity also helps children establish lifelong healthy habits. Children need to engage in various physical activities that help them develop not just bone density but also their motor skills and increase muscular strength.
Children should be encouraged to participate in various sports such as climbing, balance beam, gymnastics, hockey, skiing and soccer. Along with these sports, children should also engage in exercises that strengthen the core muscles, such as plank exercises and bicycle crunches. An excellent way to make sure children are getting enough exercise is by setting aside time each day for physical activity.
With physical activity, children need to replenish the energy they consume, and you can fulfill this need by eating bone-strengthening food. Children should try to avoid high-sugar foods such as donuts, pastries and candies as much as possible to improve bone growth.
A Parting Reminder
There is no simple answer to the question of whether or not children need milk for strong bones to develop. Milk is a good source of calcium and nutrients, which is why it is often recommended for growing children. However, other sources of calcium can be just as effective, so speak with a healthcare professional to determine what is best for your child.