Mason County News
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010 • Posted May 5, 2010

Get More Spring in Your Step with Stronger Bones!

Spring is a time when we transition from cold winters to longer, warmer days. This is my absolute favorite time of year, especially here with the beautiful wild flowers in bloom. Spring provides us the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy such things as walking, biking, and gardening.

You can find my daughter Brooke and I out for a walk most evenings with our chiweenie (that’s a dachund/ Chihuahua mix). For some, unfortunately, enjoying the traditional spring activities isn't possible because of poor bone health. That's one of the reasons we should do all we can to maintain good bone health as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Most think of milk when the topic of building bone comes up, but for many milk isn't an option (either they don't like the taste and/or may suffer from lactose intolerance or other conditions). Fortunately, for the non-milk fan, there are many tasty alternatives to building strong bones. Citrus fruits are high in calcium as are fruit juices with added calcium. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine lists the following as calcium rich foods: Sesame seeds, unhulled; cheese;Kale;Turnip greens; Instant oats; Lowfat yogurt; White beans, and Broccoli.

An effective alternative to regular milk is flavored milk (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla) which has the same calcium benefits as regular milk and is often a favorite of kids (and adults). There is some controversy about whether we should be giving our kids the extra sugars in flavored milk. It’s my opinion that it isn’t really an issue unless your child is overweight, and even then if it is a choice between the child not drinking milk at all and drinking flavored milk, it’s always best to do whatever you can to get your child to drink milk. Add in some extra activity time to compensate for the sugars, but they are at least getting their calcium! Of course, if your child likes the taste of regular milk, don’t even offer the flavors at home. They can choose it at school if they like it!

Never give a child under 1 regular milk - their bodies can’t digest the proteins yet. They still need breast milk or formula until they are 12 months old. Kids from age 1-2 should be drinking whole milk (toddlers need good fats for brain development), but after that the whole family should drink low fat milk if possible (unless your child is underweight, and then the whole milk is still best).

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