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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

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Like many things growing girls do -- playing sports, finishing chores or finding time for homework -- healthful eating is a balancing act. It takes skillful maneuvering to get it right. Just as these girls plot their game strategy and budget their time, they need to choose among foods that make up a healthful diet and develop exercise habits that benefit them most -- not only for today, but for the future, too.

Adequate calcium intake at this time in life is critical to achieving full height with strong bones and teeth. The diets of growing girls often lack nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, dark-green or deep-yellow vegetables and milk or milk products. What growing girls eat affects their health now -- and in the future. For that reason, you not only need to show them the links between diet and health, but also to help them develop skills for making informed food decisions.

Physical activity is another essential component of a lifestyle that supports the growth of healthy bones and teeth. It appears that physical activity helps to build greater bone mass in childhood and early adolescence and helps to maintain peak bone mass in adulthood. Activities ranging from walking the dog to jumping rope can stimulate bone growth. The goal is to get girls moving with activities they enjoy and can pursue regularly.

All ages of women need calcium for strong bones.

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Where is Calcium Found in the Body?
Bones and teeth make up ninety-nine percent of the body's calcium content.

When is the Skeleton Formed?

Most of the body's bone mass starts to form before children enter puberty. During adolescence about 75-85% of the skeleton is formed. Therefore, young girls need to eat the right amount of the building blocks for bone; nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus and vitamin D.

How Much Calcium and Exercise Do Growing Girls Needed?

To develop strong bones that support full growth, girls need to eat 120% of the Daily Value for calcium every day (1,200 mg) and they need regular physical activity.
  What Robs The Body of Calcium?
Some foods and behaviors can rob the body of calcium or increase its calcium need. Girls who smoke, drink alcohol, skip meals, drink too many cola-type beverage, eat too much salt or have certain eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia -- risk weakening their bones for life.

What Happens to Bone as Women Age?

It is important to strengthen your bones while you are young. Some women begin to lose bone even as early as age 35. Over time, this bone loss can lead to a condition called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and break with very little stress. Developing strong bones when you are young can help to reduce the risk of broken bones when you are old.

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Video to promote young girls to accept themselves: Real Beauty Your Beautiful Like a Rainbow!


More Youth Replacing Milk With Sugary Drinks


Result: Less Calcium and Other Nutrients, More Empty Calories

 Many kids give up milk for sodas and fruit drinks as they mature, and their bodies may be paying the price.

This study found that milk is a primary source of nutrients in a child's diet, but milk consumption steadily declines as children grow older, which may prevent older children and teenagers from consuming the nutrients they need for growth and development.

Calories consumed from milk dropped as children matured, while calories from sodas and fruit drinks.

Who's Drinking What

What do American kids and teens drink? It depends on their age.

Little kids are the most likely to drink milk, but that often changes as they mature. Milk provides 13% of daily calories for children aged 2-5 years, 9% for those aged 6-11 years, and 6%-7% for teens aged 12-18 years, says the study.

The reverse is true for sodas and fruit drinks; teens drank the most of those sugary beverages. Sodas and fruit drinks account for 7% of daily calories for the youngest kids, 9% for children aged 6-11 years, and 12%-13% for those aged 12-18 years.

The data was based on 1999-2000 government food surveys. Milk included flavored milks. Fruit drinks did not include juices.

Calcium Consequences

Milk was a leading source of calcium and other nutrients (phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium) for all age groups. By sidelining milk, older children and teens could fall short in those areas.

Of course, milk isn't the only source of calcium. Some juices and cereals are fortified with it; leafy greens contain some calcium, and supplements are widely available. The nutrient is important throughout life, not just for little kids, health experts say.

Sodas and fruit drinks were only a leading source of vitamin C and made up 35%-58% of added sugars in the kids' diets. Milk was responsible for 1%-2% of added sugars, the study shows.

Milk did provide more fat -- 6%-17% of kids' total fat consumption, compared with less than 1% of total fat for sodas and fruit drinks. But the calories in sodas and fruit drinks had little to offer in terms of nutrition.

Weighty Impact?

Murphy's study didn't get into the issue of childhood obesity. But past research has indicated that kids who down too many sugary drinks gain more weight than their peers who drink less of the same beverages.

In 2003, a study in the Journal of Pediatrics reported that kids who drink more than 12 ounces of sweetened drinks gained significantly more weight than those who drank less than 6 ounces of similar drinks.

SOURCES: Experimental Biology 2005, San Diego, April 2-6, 2005. News release, Weber Shandwick. WebMD Medical News Archive: "Too Much Soda, Juice Makes Kids Fatter."

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Calcium plus protein equals strong bones

 Getting enough calcium is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones, but new research suggests that protein may also play an important role in preventing bone loss.

     During a 3-year study of 342 elderly men and women who were taking
calcium citrate malate and vitamin D supplements found that bone mineral density increased most in people whose diets contained the most protein. Whether protein came from mainly animal or plant sources did not affect the increase in bone density.  Thus calcium may enable your bones to benefit from the protein in your diet to increased bone density. So you need both calcium and protein for bone, and if your diet has plenty of both, then your bones are likely to be in better condition

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002;75:609-610, 773-779.

Alice Henneman, MS, RD, LMNT, Extension Educator University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

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bulletCalcium Rich Foods Chart
A transparency master that shows the calcium content of different foods in milligrams.
bulletCalcium Equivalents
Here's some fun comparison "pictographs" showing the food amounts needed to equal 1 glass of milk.
bulletMilk Riddles
Students will love these fun riddles about milk products.
bulletNutrition Education K-6 Table of Contents
Nutrition curriculum with overview, recipes, songs, list of resources, bibliograpy, food pyramid, puppet pattern, and great clip art as well as a list of related lesson plans.
bulletNutrition Education-Calcium

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February 06, 2008

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