Calcium and Bone Health

Bones and Sponges, what do they have in common?

I am teaching lessons on nutrition and healthy eating to the campers at JCYS Grand Slam Tennis Camp in Highland Park this summer. Last week, my lesson was about calcium and healthy bones. We did a relay race and the kids ran to fill up a bucket with water using their sponges.

Bones are made up of a spongy interior which requires calcium to maintain strength and prevent deterioration of the bone structure. Without calcium, adults, and even children, can develop osteopenia or osteoporosis which can cause permanent disability. See more about osteoporosis here.

My lesson was a simple one. Bones, like sponges, are made up of a tiny matrix of holes or pores. Sponges, especially Sponge Bob, like water. Without water, they become weak and break easily. Bones need calcium to maintain their strength and structure. As children grow, bone formation exceeds bone breakdown. In early and middle adulthood, both processes are equal. In aging adults, bone breakdown exceeds formation, resulting in bone loss and increased risk of osteoporosis. Thus, as we age, our needs increase.

How do I get Calcium?
• Milk, skim (8 oz) = 302 mg
• Cheddar cheese (1.5 oz) = 306 mg
• Yogurt, plain, low-fat (8 oz) = 415 mg
• Yogurt, fruited, low-fat (8 oz) = 245-384 mg
• Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve (4 oz) = 100 mg
• Kale, cooked (1 cup) = 94 mg
• Broccoli, raw (½ cup) = 21 mg

How much do I need?

Age    Mg/day
Birth-6 months 210
6-12 months 270
1-3 years 500
4-8 years 800
9-18 years 1300
19-50 years 1000
51-70+ years 1200
Pregnancy & Lactation, <18 years 1300
Pregnancy & Lactation, 19-50 years 1000

Next time you reach for a snack, think of your sponges, and make it a calcium rich choice to help strengthen your bones!

Lara Field MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and Specialist in Pediatrics with over a decade of clinical and client experience. When she’s not actively working to keep her clients healthy, she’s a busy mother of two active boys and loves testing new recipes in her kitchen. Follow her on Instagram to see her recipe ideas, product suggestions, and see how she manages a healthy lifestyle @larafield.