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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The best for growing child

5:13 PM

Balancing the nutritional needs that include sufficient intake of protein and calcium among the young.

RESEARCH has shown that regular physical activity offers a number of health benefits for children, including staying fit, controlling body weight and maintaining healthy bones.

During the growing years, regular exercise increases bone gain and contributes to peak bone mass in adulthood.

This is because our bodies' bones mass depletes as we age, so we need to keep fuelling it with calcium in order for it to continue being strong and healthy.

Understanding bones

The skeleton increases in mass seven-fold from birth until adolescents and then another three-fold during adolescents.

Calcium and other nutrients found in milk are needed by growing bodies to help develop and build strong bones during this time.

Peak bone mass is achieved at around the age of 20. That is the time when our bones will be at their strongest during our life.

It is important to help them along as much as we can because the higher the peak bone mass is achieved, the larger the reserve bones have to allow for the natural bone mineral losses that occur in later life.

Calcium needs

The nutrition guidelines recommend that children from ages seven to nine get 700mg of calcium per day, or about two servings of milk group foods daily.

Teens and young adults, from ages 10 to 18, need more calcium because their bones are growing more than at other times of their lives.

They should have 1,000mg of calcium per day, or about three servings of milk group foods daily.

One 250ml glass or packet of milk has about 300mg of calcium, so just three glasses or packets can go a long way towards getting the calcium needed each day.

Other goodies in milk

Besides calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus are also important in building strong bones because they work hand-inhand with calcium in building bone mass.

Vitamin D helps promote absorption of calcium and enhances bone mineralisation while phosphorus also helps to strengthen bones.

Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Researchers recently identified rickets, a vitamin Ddeficiency disease that causes weak or deformed bones, in young children fed alternatives to cow's milk.

As a parent, you play a positive role in influencing your children's beverage choices.

A recent study of mothers and their five-year-old daughters found that mothers who drank milk more frequently had daughters who also drank milk more frequently.

Also, the milk-drinking mother-daughter pairs consumed fewer soft drinks and had higher calcium levels.

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