October is here and the skeleton costumes will be on parade for Halloween! There’s such a fascination with skeletons and what they’ve represented for thousands of years. Archaeologists study skeletons to learn about the past while today’s doctors study our bones to learn about fractures, diseases and ways to keep us strong.
At birth, babies have about 300 bones that are made up of cartilage, which turns into bones as the body grows. By the time we reach adulthood, we’re down to 206 bones! But every 10 years an amazing thing happens – the entire skeleton changes due to “remodeling,” which means some bones break down and new bones form in their place.
The bank of bones
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides an excellent overview of why bones matter and how to protect them for life. The NIH asks you to think of your bones as a “bank” where you “deposit” and “withdraw” bone tissue. Children and teens are lucky as new bones add to the skeleton faster than the old ones are withdrawn. Bones then become larger, heavier and denser. The bone deposits continue to earn interest (strength) until you reach about age 30 when bone loss is greater than the deposits.
Kids need to start out strong!
The more work your bones do, the stronger they can become. Not only do they protect your body from injury, but your brain, heart and other organs as well. For kids, keeping their framework healthy isn’t something they think about on a daily basis, but they do watch their parents’ health habits. So, less time sitting and more time moving are good for parents and kids alike. Any kind of physical activity for kids is great, but for better bone health, weight-bearing activities are best.
Bone up on prevention…
Up to 90% of your skeleton or bone mass forms by age 18 for girls and age 20 for boys. Thus, the younger years are the best time to make that investment in bone health. The recommended amount of calcium for children/young adults is:
- 1 to 3 years of age: 700 milligrams
- 4 to 8 years of age: 1,000 milligrams
- 9 to 18 years of age: 3,000 milligrams
There are some excellent sources for increasing muscle through physical activity, including:
- Lifting weights
Building Bone Cells
Our skeletons are the foundations we build upon to keep us sturdy. Strong bone cells will help to keep our skeletons in great shape. Parents can promote a healthy lifestyle for their children by helping them move, play and exercise with 30 minutes of activity each day. Feed your kids a diet rich in fruits and veggies and ensure they’re getting their vitamin D from sunshine or supplements and calcium from plant foods.
Remember, the ghosts and goblins may frighten you, but the skeletons, they’re the cool ones!
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or as a substitute for healthcare by your physician.