The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Why do teenagers need more calcium than other age groups?

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The adolescent phase (between the ages of 9 and 19 years) is a critical time for bone development, as 50% of bone density is deposited in this period. Teenagers need 4 servings of dairy a day to build strong bones and teeth for life.

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Adolescence (between the ages of 9 and 19) is a crucial stage for bone development as 50% of bone density is acquired in this period.

The teenage years present a unique opportunity to maximise bone quality for life. After the age of 30, bone density does not increase any further. The stronger bones become during the teenage years, the less chance there will be of developing osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones have become brittle and weak because of calcium loss, and so can fracture easily.

Calcium is an essential nutrient for building and maintaining strong bones. Teenagers therefore need more calcium than other age groups. Milk, yoghurt, maas and cheese are good sources of calcium and other nutrients that support bone-building, such as protein and phosphorus. It is recommended that teenagers consume four rather than three servings of dairy per day to meet their calcium needs.

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