No matter what age, we need strong bones. And building strong bones starts early in life. We continue to build bone until the age of 30, and then we strive to maintain that strong foundation. That's why calcium -- and other nutrients -- are so important to kids and teens.
Calcium is a key component to healthy bones, but it can't act alone. It takes a village of nutrients all working together to help your body maintain or retain its healthy structure, according to Mayo Clinic.
It may surprise you to know your bones are always changing. Old bone is broken down and replaced by new bone until that magic age of 30, when bone mass is at its peak. After that, while bone replacement continues, new bone doesn't keep up, and we begin to lose bone mass.
We can keep bone loss minimized by eating a "healthy bone diet," doing weight-bearing exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking.
What are the best foods to eat? Milk, cheese and yogurt, of course, because they are good sources of calcium. And calcium absorption is aided by vitamin D (fortified in milk and yogurt) and magnesium (needed to properly regulate calcium and vitamin D). Our bones also need phosphorus (to neutralize acidic foods that could be harmful to bones), potassium (also helpful in neutralizing acids) and vitamin A (essential for cells that build bone).
Here are some good sources of those nutrients:
Magnesium: green vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains and avocado.
Vitamin D: fatty fish (such as swordfish, salmon or sardines) and egg yolks.
Phosphorus: soybeans, fish, meat, milk, eggs, legumes and whole grains
Potassium: fruits (especially bananas and oranges), vegetables (especially potatoes), scallops, beans, whole grains and squash.