Healthy bones are built through diet, exercise and the sun, and it’s all about timing. Even though we may not see the effects of weak bones until later in life, bone building begins in childhood. Both men and women build bones until they are around 30 years old, which means that if the proper diet and lifestyle factors (like weight-bearing exercise, consumption of bone building foods, and sun exposure) have not been in place before then, there is an increased risk for developing osteoporosis.
In order to build and maintain strong bones, a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is key. In a recent survey conducted by The Dairy Alliance, we found that 91% of parents believe that children today do not consume enough vitamin D in their daily diets. The good news is that dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are the top sources of calcium and vitamin D in the American diet. In fact, three glasses of milk provide nearly 75% of the calcium and half of the vitamin D recommended each day.
In addition to a diet that includes calcium and vitamin D, weight-bearing activities like walking, running, dancing, and lifting weights are necessary to prevent fractures and maintain healthy bones. Aim for 30 minutes each day, most days of the week.
Believe it or not, catching some rays helps to build and maintain strong bones. Approximately 15 minutes of sun exposure several times a week helps the body to make vitamin D.