A new study included more than 2,000 youngsters who had annual bone and growth measurements for up to seven years as they moved into their late teens and early adulthood.
The findings highlight the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity during the late teen years, according to authors of the study published recently in JAMA Pediatrics.
“We often think of a child’s growth largely with respect to height, but overall bone development is also important,” said lea author Dr. Shara McCormack, a pediatric researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“This study shows that roughly 10% of bone mass continues to accumulate after a teenager reaches his or her adult height,” McCormack said in a hospital news release.
The study also found that bone growth develops at different rates in different parts of the skeleton, that it peaks earlier in black Americans that in other racial groups, and that height growth far outpaces bone growth before adolescence.
The later finding could help explain why children and teens have high fracture rates. Between 30 and 50% will have at least one broken bone before adulthood.
“Late adolescence is when some teenagers adopt risky behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol use, worse dietary choices and decreased physical activity, all of which can impair bone development,” McCormack said. “This period is a time for parents and caregivers to encourage healthier behaviors, such as better diets and more physical activity.”
This information is not new and can be found in every edition of Gray’s Anatomy. Bone density studies have confirmed that a women’s bone mass peaks about age 22. That is why it is used as the baseline for the T-scale in testing for osteoporosis and osteopenia.
However, I’m not so sure that this is common knowledge to the general population and bears repeating.
There are at least 20 different nutritional factors involved in building bone. You know about calcium and vitamin D, but adequate protein intake is probably more important for bone formation. Vitamins K, B6, folate (folic acid) and B12 are essential. Other minerals like magnesium, boron and vanadium are also needed in lesser amount than calcium.
When the bone mass peaks in your early twenties, you have reached your full potential. Past that point, the goal is to maintain, or at least slow the loss of bone mass. If you never reach that full potential, then your reserve is depleted from the start.
Researchers believe that a lack of adequate nutrition in childhood and early into adulthood is a major factor in the development of osteoporosis.
The Bottom Line:
Start with a base of three protein, five vegetable and two fruit servings per day. Add a calcium supplement with some magnesium, especially if the kids are physically active (and they should be). Give it to them at bedtime and it will help them go to sleep as well.
Source: July 17 2017 National Institutes of Health