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Healthy Bones for a Healthy Sports Star – Important Tips to Strengthen Your Bones

Sports involving weight-bearing activities improve the quality of bones. High impact sports such as volleyball or odd-impact sports such as soccer, badminton are associated with higher Bone Mineral Density. Optimise your kid’s bone health by encouraging them to play a variety of high impact and odd-impact sports to maintain overall bone health. Here are some important tips to strengthen your bones.

Bones is a living mineralised matrix of calcium, phosphate and other biological elements. Calcium and phosphates in bones confer strength to its structure. Studies have shown that the Bone Mineral Content or BMC increases 40 fold from birth till adulthood, peaking when the person is in their 20’s. Approximately 40% to 60% of the bone mass is accumulated during the adolescent years.

Bone mass accrued during the early years determines the overall bone health in our lifetime and can also prevent diseases such as Osteoporosis.

So how do we optimise bone health in children? Well, there are broadly 2 main factors affecting bone mass.

  1. Non-modifiable factors such as gender, genetics and ethnicity.
  2. Modifiable factors such as diet, exercise, body weight and hormonal status.

This gives us room to just work with the modifiable factors. 

Maintaining a right balanced healthy diet improves the bone health. Diet for bone health is a combination of Calcium, Vitamin D, Sodium, Protein and Soda. 

Calcium

Milk and milk products are a primary source of calcium. Apart from calcium, milk provides protein, vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus which are vital ingredients for a healthy bone. Its recommended consulting a paediatrician for lactose intolerant children.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a hormone required for calcium absorption and utilization. Studies have shown that absence of Vitamin D can result in only 10% to 15% of calcium absorption. Sunlight is a major source for Vitamin D. Research have shown us that exposure to UV B radiation in the range of 290 to 315 nm from sunlight is the major source of vitamin D. Food supplements for Vitamin D include cod liver oil, fatty fish (eg, salmon, sardines, tuna), and fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, yogurts and cheese.

Sodium, Proteins and Soda

The right amount of Sodium, proteins and soda can boost the overall health of your bones. Low sodium will predispose subjects to low calcium retention and high sodium promotes increased urinary calcium excretion and hence should be avoided. It’s recommended to consult a dietician to find out your right amount of sodium, protein and soda intake.

Exercise

Exercise such as playing sports boosts bone health. Studies have shown that mechanical forces applied to the skeleton increase the overall bone formation. Weight-bearing exercises or games such as running, skipping increases the Bone Mineral Density (BMD). High impact sports such as volleyball Orr odd-impact sports such as soccer, badminton are associated with higher BMD. However, excessive high impact exercises can also lead to fracture. Hence a balance should be maintained between high impact and low impact exercises. 

Body Weight

Body weight plays an important role in the quality of bones. Maintaining healthy body weight during childhood is recommended to optimise bone health.

Hormonal Status

Hormones such as Estrogen and Testosterones play an important in maintaining healthy bones.

Key Takeaways

  1. Promote weight-bearing activities to your kids. Encourage them to go out and play.
  2. Consume adequate calcium and proteins and avoid excessive sodium.
  3. Consume adequate Vitamin D by encouraging your kids to play more outdoor games. 

References 

“Optimizing Bone Health in Children and Adolescents” by Neville H. Golden, Steven A. Abrams, COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION. Pediatrics, Oct 2014, Vol 134/ Issue 4

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