The human body is composed of trillions of cells, but it is basically supported by muscles and bones. The bones, in particular, are very important as they protect the organs inside the body. The strength and volume of the bones are determined by calcium levels, which peak during the first two decades of life. For this reason, it is imperative to attain the peak bone mass during the adolescence stage.
To build strong bones that will last a lifetime, teenagers must consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Unfortunately, teenagers between the ages of nine and 18 often do not meet this daily requirement because of their lifestyles. This lack of calcium increases the risk of low bone density and contracting osteoporosis later in life. To ensure optimum bone health, it is essential to maintain a balanced calcium level, which can be attained by following a healthy diet and performing regular exercise. Calcium is truly essential in teenage bone formation, and certain types of workouts can help strengthen the bones.
Calcium for a Lifetime of Healthy Bones
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops gradually with age. It is caused by insufficient amounts of calcium in the bones. Adequate calcium intake and consuming a nutritious and calcium balanced diet during the teenage years increase the bones maximum density and help prevent osteoporosis as you age. The bones absorb and store calcium quickly during the adolescence stage, particularly between the ages 13 to 18 as nearly half of the adult bone density is formed during these years. This is why health care professionals and nutritionists recommend sticking to a balanced diet that includes high levels of calcium.
Calcium Balance and Absorption Cycle
When your blood’s calcium is insufficient, your bones provide the needed amount of calcium to regain balance and maintain the body’s normal functions. When this calcium is not replaced, your bones become weak. The bones are considered calcium reservoirs and they will continue to act in this manner, even if it threatens your skeletal integrity. Consuming foods that are rich in calcium can restore the borrowed calcium and prevent weak bones.
Foods High in Calcium
Most teens are conscious of their physical image. Teens who are conscious of their weight and body image may choose a fat-free or low-fat diet consisting of milk, yogurt and other dairy products. Although there is less fat in these products, these still contain sufficient calcium that is easily absorbed by the body. Dairy products also have vitamin D, an essential substance for increasing bone mass. Vitamin D also aids in calcium absorption. Other calcium-rich foods are:
- Green leafy vegetables
Workouts for Strong Bones
Together with calcium-rich diet, regular exercise aids in strengthening the bones. Some exercises that aid in the formation of strong bones are:
Weight-bearing exercise is typically recommended for people with arthritis but it is beneficial to people in every age category. It is considered as the best exercise for the bones. Weight-bearing workouts include weight training, walking and jogging. You can also choose weight-bearing sports like tennis, volleyball, running, jumping rope and soccer.
Weight-bearing exercises force you to work against gravity. This is why hiking, rock-climbing and trekking are also recommended activities for strengthening the bones.
Yoga is not only a stretching exercise; it also helps control your emotions, which is useful when maintaining a well-balanced diet. The stretching exercises lubricate the joints and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Yoga also provides the benefit of weight-bearing exercise without the usual wear and tear that occurs during a rigorous workout.
Other simple workouts that make your bones healthy are aerobics, walking, dancing and cycling. Climbing the stairs is also an easy and simple weight-bearing exercise that can be performed every day.