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Breaking Down Bone Health Myths


What's in your daughter's glass? If it's not a calcium-rich beverage like milk, fortified orange juice or soymilk, she may not be building the strong bones she'll need for life.

Many girls don't drink milk because they worry about weight gain. Others steer clear of dairy products because they are lactose intolerant. Avoiding calcium-rich foods, combined with a lack of exercise, puts girls at risk for osteoporosis later in life. Help your daughter build strong bones by learning the facts about bone health.

Girls ages nine to 18 need three cups per day of low-fat or fat-free milk plus another serving of a calcium-rich food such as yogurt and cheese. Girls also need 60 minutes of physical activity each day, including activities that are best for bones like running, jumping rope, walking, basketball, volleyball or cheerleading.

Below are some of the most common myths and misconceptions regarding bone health. Surprised? You're not the only one!

Myth: Dairy products cause weight gain.
Fact: Dairy products don't have to be fattening. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese. Low-fat and fat-free milk and soy drinks contain the same amount of calcium as whole milk-without the added fat.

Myth: People with lactose intolerance can't drink milk.
Fact: Many people with lactose intolerance can still enjoy small amounts of milk and other dairy products like yogurt and cheese. You can also try lactose-reduced milk or a soy drink.

Myth: You don't have to worry about osteoporosis until you're older.
Fact: Girls between the ages of nine and 18 are in their critical bone-building years. By age 18, girls will have built close to 90 percent of their bone mass. That means right now is the best time to build strong bones to prevent osteoporosis.

Myth: My daughter gets enough exercise at school.
Fact: Very few schools require physical education every year. Your daughter needs 60 minutes of physical activity every day for good health. Make sure she gets enough by encouraging after-school activities such as soccer, tennis, dance, gymnastics, or playing outside with her friends. Get active as a family by taking a walk after dinner or a long hike on the weekend.

Myth: Dairy products are the only way to get calcium.
Fact: Milk is still the best source for calcium, as it also contains vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, and other nutrients like potassium. However, your daughter can get the calcium she needs from many other foods, such as spinach, tofu, almonds, and calcium-fortified bread, tortillas and cereals.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health leads a national bone health campaign for girls ages nine to 14 to encourage bone-healthy habits, including getting enough calcium-rich foods, vitamin D, and bone-strengthening activities like running and jumping. For tips on building strong bones, visit the Web site for girls at www.girlshealth.gov/bones or for parents at www.girlshealth.gov/parents/bones.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
Source: National Bone Health Campaign

Categories: Children's Health, Health & Wellness,

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