(BPT) - Most people associate bone density and skeletal concerns with advanced age. However, healthy bones form during childhood with the majority of bone density established before kids reach their 20s. Is it time to shift the focus to the early years rather than the later?
Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. What's more, bone mass peaks by the late 20s for most people, which means at this point bones have reached their maximum strength and density.
Bone is a living tissue and childhood is a critical time to focus on bone health and establish good habits that support skeletal wellness throughout life. Some factors effecting bone mass cannot be controlled, such as gender, race and hormones. Nutrition, on the other hand, can be controlled and is one of the best ways to increase your child's bone health while teaching them positive eating habits.
Nutrition ideas to boost bone health
Studies show an increase in childhood bone fractures over the past four decades. Experts agree adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium decrease the risk of developing fractures by supporting bone strength. During the winter months, many children are not getting enough vitamin D — an essential vitamin needed for the body to absorb calcium — so it's an important concern with decreased daylight hours.
Milk is an obvious source of vitamin D and calcium, but for kids with lactose sensitivities or those who don't like drinking milk, there are other options. In fact, there are many foods that are a good source of both vitamin D and calcium.
Eggs: Eggland’s Best eggs come from hens fed an all-vegetarian diet consisting of healthy grains, canola oil and supplements like alfalfa and vitamin E. As a result, each EB egg has five times more vitamin D, plus three times more vitamin B12, two times more omega-3s, 10 times more vitamin E and 38 percent more lutein compared to ordinary eggs.
Kale: Just one cup of kale has 10 percent of your daily calcium and 133 percent of both your vitamin A and vitamin C needs for the day. If you struggle to get your kids to eat veggies, simply blend kale in a fruit smoothie, make kale chips by baking with garlic and olive oil, or mix cooked kale into spaghetti sauce or an egg frittata mixture to make it a seamless addition.
Figs: Five medium fresh figs have around 90 milligrams of calcium and other bone-healthy nutrients like potassium and magnesium, according to WebMD. Dried figs are a good option also, plus are a great natural sweetener for bakery items like cookies. A half cup of dried figs have 120 milligrams of calcium.
Almond butter: Want a bone-boosting alternative to peanut butter for your little one's toast and PB&Js? Try almond butter! In addition to being a good source of protein, two tablespoons contains an estimated 112 milligrams of calcium and 240 milligrams of potassium.
Tofu: Soft enough that even tots can safely eat it, tofu is considered by some to be a modern superfood. Packed with nutrients, calcium-enriched tofu contains more than 400 milligrams of calcium. Cut into small pieces, saute and add to your kids' favorite dishes such as macaroni and cheese or scrambled eggs.
"Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient when it comes to good bone health, but it’s also difficult to get the necessary amount through food,” said Tammy Lakatos, a registered dietitian. “That’s why we love Eggland’s Best eggs — they have five times more Vitamin D than ordinary eggs, plus, they’re easy to integrate into your diet, whether in omelets, salads, wraps, casseroles or desserts."
Want a bone-healthy recipe that both kids and adults will enjoy? Try out this recipe and find more meal inspiration at www.egglandsbest.com.
Easy Pizza with Sauteed Greens, Garlic and Eggs
4 Eggland's Best Eggs (large)
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
10 ounces baby spinach, about 10 cups
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) bag refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Coat a large round baking or pizza pan with cooking spray. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the garlic and cook until starting to brown, about 1 1/2-2 minutes. Add the spinach, tossing with kitchen tongs, and cook until wilted, 3 minutes; season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to a sieve or colander set over a bowl and let drain 5 minutes; discard liquid.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 15-inch circle and transfer to the prepared pan. Spread the ricotta evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Top evenly with the spinach then sprinkle with the mozzarella and Romano cheeses. Bake until the crust is lightly browned, 20-22 minutes.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and cook until the whites are just set, about 3 minutes. With a spatula, gently flip the eggs over and cook 30 seconds longer. Top the pizza with the eggs. Cut through the eggs into 8 slices.