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Are Natural Treatments Available For A Child With Osteoporosis?

The best osteoporosis prevention strategy is to gain as much bone mass as possible when young-by eating the right foods and exercising.

Our skeletons are like a bank. The more bone mass we build up while young, the longer we can withdraw from it before we are vulnerable to fractures. Absorbing sufficient calcium and vitamin D as well as magnesium and vitamin K are essential for any child with osteoporosis.

YOUR CHILD WITH OSTEOPOROSIS AND CALCIUM

The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of calcium is as follows:

Infants

  • 0-6 months: 210 mg
  • 7-12 months: 270 mg

Children

  • 1-3 years: 500 mg
  • 4-8 years: 800 mg
  • 9-18 years: 1,300 mg

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides excellent guidance on osteoporosis prevention strategies during childhood.

INFANTS

The optimal primary nutritional source during the first year of life is human milk. Available data demonstrate that the bioavailability of calcium from human milk is greater than that from infant formulas or cow's milk. Consequently, calcium has been increased in infant formulas (including soy formulas) to ensure at least comparable levels of calcium retention.

Premature infants have higher calcium requirements than full-term infants while in the nursery. These may be met by using human milk fortified with additional minerals or with specially designed formulas for premature infants.

CHILDREN

Calcium retention is relatively low in toddlers and slowly increases as puberty approaches. The development of eating patterns associated with adequate calcium intake are most important at this stage of development.

PREADOLESCENTS AND ADOLESCENTS (Age 9-18)

The efficiency of calcium absorption is increased during puberty and the majority of bone formation occurs during this period. The optimal levels of calcium intake at this age is between 1200 and 1500 mg a day. Establishing good dietary patterns is critical at this age.

YOUR CHILD WITH OSTEOPOROSIS AND VITAMIN D

Research has shown that over 70% of North Americans are deficient in vitamin D for at least part of the year. New guidelines for increased vitamin D supplementation are expected soon.

At present, Health Canada recommends that all breastfed, healthy term babies receive a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU. Supplementation of the vitamin should begin at birth and continue until an infant's diet includes at least 400 IU of the vitamin D from food sources or until the breastfed infant reaches one year of age. This recommendation is to help reduce the risk of rickets, a disease that affects bone growth in children. Infants who are formula fed receive adequate vitamin D from formula. After one year, all children should have a daily intake of 200 IU of vitamin D, which is the amount found in two cups of milk or fortified soy beverage.

The Vitamin D Council is much more aggressive with its recommendations for vitamin D. It recommends that healthy children under the age of 1 year should take 1,000 IU vitamin D3 per day and children over the age of 1, 1,000 IU vitamin D3 per every 25 pounds of body weight per day. It advices adolescents to take 5,000 IU vitamin D3 per day. Once the supplements have been taken for several months, a vitamin D blood test will tell you if the child with osteoporosis is maintaining the acceptable range of vitamin D needed to absorb calcium into the bones.

For information on vitamins and minerals that can help your child with osteoporosis build strong bones, visit Osteoporosis Treatment Guidelines.