Mar 7 2005
American teenagers are in a calcium crisis, the milk and milk products they need to help form healthy bone is often missing from their diet; about 15 percent of adult height is added at this time and half of all bone is formed March, National Nutrition Month®, the time when health professionals encourage all of us to look at what we eat and make informed food choices, is even more important for kids and teens who are still growing.
The link between calcium in dairy and good bone health has been well established by decades of research; milk and milk products play an important role in the diet, and children rarely get the calcium they need without them, says Greg Miller, Ph.D. of the National Dairy Council.
Bone health is an important issue for kids and teens who are in a critical stage of development regarding strong bones. A report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis by the 2004 Surgeon General in 2004, estimated that 34 million people are currently at risk from osteoporosis. The report stresses the importance of preventative measures such as including in the diet calcium and vitamin D-rich foods like milk, cheese and yogurt. New U.S. Dietary Guidelines also highlight calcium as a "nutrient of concern" among children and adolescents and recommends dairy, 3 servings a day of milk and milk products, to provide many of the key nutrients that Americans are lacking in their diet.
Many health and nutrition experts agree that milk and milk products are essential for healthy bones and recent research by prominent calcium and bone expert Robert P. Heaney, MD, of Creighton University in Omaha suggests that a diet devoid of milk and milk products could lead to bone fractures. Heaney's review of 139 studies exploring the relationship between bone health and calcium intake, which included more than 50 controlled interventions, is one of the most comprehensive analysis of the research on the connection between dairy and bone strength.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has run an extensive, publicly funded education program called "Milk Matters," which focuses on why milk is essential in the bone development of kids and teens.