Teenage Girls and Calcium

I went to a great grand rounds the other day about osteoporosis and learned that all teenage girls should be taking about 1,500 mg of calcium with Vitamin D a day in addition to a multivitamin. Three glasses of milk provide about 1,200 mgs, but most teens are not drinking that much milk. Dark green vegetables are another good source of calcium. Exercise and weight-bearing activity is also important in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Calcium is a mineral that gives strength to your bones. Calcium is also necessary for many of your body's functions, such as blood clotting and nerve and muscle function. During the teenage years (particularly ages 11-15), your bones are developing quickly and are storing calcium so that your skeleton will be strong later in life. Nearly half of all bone is formed during these years.

Women develop most of their bone strength before they are between 25 and 35. A
fter that, bone is broken down faster than it is created, leading to a small loss of bone mass every year. For women, bone loss accelerates during menopause, but slows again around age 60.

There are specific risk factors for osteoporosis that teens should know:
  • Being white;
  • Having irregular periods;
  • Doing little or no exercise;
  • Not getting enough calcium in your diet; Being below a normal weight;
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis;
  • Smoking; and
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol.
Osteoporosis can be prevented, but teens need to start early.

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