Don't sell your skeleton short

16 December, 2010

An international bone expert has urged teenagers not to sell their skeleton short, and pay attention to the amount of calcium they are consuming.

Professor Connie Weaver, speaking at the World Dairy Summit in Auckland, said adolescence is a critical time to build peak bone mass and ensure a strong skeleton.

"But typically teenagers get far less than the daily 1300mg calcium they need," Prof. Weaver said.

The most recent Australian National Nutrition Survey for children, highlighted calcium intake is low, particularly for teenage girls, with only 11-18 per cent meeting their calcium requirements(i).

Prof Weaver presented data from dietary models which showed increasing calcium intake from 800 to 1300mg per day during the teenage years will lead to a 10 per cent increase in peak bone mass.

Her research team from Purdue University in the US highlighted that this bone increase can guard against osteoporosis and fractures later in life(ii).

The bone mass attained in childhood and adolescence can determine lifelong skeletal health so calcium intake is important for teenagers.

Osteoporosis Australia CEO Shelley Evans said "A healthy diet rich in calcium, along with vitamin D and daily exercise is the key to reducing the risk of osteoporosis in later life" she said.

"Consuming calcium rich foods like dairy each day will provide all the calcium teenagers need for developing strong bones."

Dairy Australia dietitian Glenys Zucco said, "Three to four serves of dairy each day provides teenagers with the recommended intake of calcium, and parents can help guide good habits by stocking the fridge with calcium rich snacks such as yogurt, cheese and milk."

"Teenagers often skip milk in favour of soft drink or juice. There are a wide range of dairy products available which are good alternatives, such as flavoured milk which contains the same 10 essential nutrients as white milk," she added.

Source: AAP Media Release