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What we were doing, in reality, was building strong bones. Many of today's kids are being short changed. They sit at home, playing video games. They drink more soda pop than anything else and eat more fast food than real food. Mom and Dad both work, so a family dinner with real vegetables has become a special occasion, instead of the norm.

Today's kids are also being bombarded with the media's "thin is better" mantra, and, as a result, they are always looking for ways to eliminate many foods from their diet. The problem is that they're eliminating the wrong foods.

As children grow up, the size and strength of the bones that their body manufactures is heavily influenced by estrogen production. And I don't mean just females! Men produce testosterone (in very large quantities during the prime bone-forming teen years), which can be converted into estrogen, using a special enzyme called aromatase. As estrogen levels decline, so does the body's ability to build and strengthen bone. As men age and their testosterone levels decrease, so does their estrogen-producing ability. Hence, as men age, and lose bone mass, their risk of osteoporosis increases as dramatically as does a woman's.

Another factor in bone density is exercise. Running, jumping, and playing are all high-impact activities. Regular amounts of impact exercise helps promote bone density. Think of your bones as a box of raisin bran. When you shake the box for a few minutes, all of the raisins settle to the bottom. When you participate in high-impact activities, your bone cells settle to the "bottom" of your bones, causing you to form denser bone mass.

As more and more kids stay indoors and play on the computer and watch television, more of them are developing a weak bone structure that will disassemble more easily as they age. Even young athletes, who you would think are very fit, can have poor bone density. Some sports, such as gymnastics, figure skating, and ballet, prize a tiny, lithe body. These are physically demanding activities, yet have weight requirements that are not natural in the average world. Many young (and not-so-young) people involved in these type of sports will starve themselves or will become bulimic or anorexic, in their desire to be a part of the team.

When a young girl loses too much weight, she can develop amennorrhea (cessation of menstruation). Estrogen is stored in the fat cells; if there is little or no fat, there are lower levels of the necessary estrogen needed to produce a period or to build bone density. Early menopause will also encourage osteoporosis. Even though your child athlete looks healthy, a parent needs to be on guard for this type of predisposition. Persons who carry less weight then normal can also have a weak bone structure, and injuries are a common result.

A person also needs adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D to build bone density. ItÂ’s not hard to get a sufficient supply of calcium and its companions, magnesium and Vitamin D. They occur quite naturally in milk. You can always use skim milk or two percent milk if the fat content is an issue for you. Cheese, yogurt, and ice cream are easy additions to a calcium-starved diet. Even that dish of macaroni and cheese is loaded with calcium. There are even dairy products made with lactose added, in case you're lactose intolerant.

For those who are not fond of dairy products, there are other foods that can supply you with a substantial amount of calcium:

Calcium enriched orange juice contains between 250 and 350 mg. per eight-ounce serving. Cold cereal (fortified) can have up to 250 mg. of calcium per serving. Canned salmon, with bones, has about 300 mg of calcium per 3 oz. serving. Kidney beans have 50 mg. of calcium per cup. Spinach (cooked) has about 100 mg of calcium per cup. Kale (cooked) has about 100 mg. of calcium per cup. Broccoli (cooked) contains about 70 mg. of calcium per serving. Mineral water provides between 30 and 50 mg. of calcium per eight-ounce glass.

Be sure to take your basic high-potency multiple vitamin-mineral supplement with your largest or most nutrient dense meal, for maximum absorption. An additional 500 mg of vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E, plus a good calcium magnesium supplement, will round out your supplement program. The amount of calcium and magnesium supplementation you need will vary, depending on the amount of calcium-rich foods consumed during that day. Too much calcium is not good either! Look for calcium in a two-to-one ratio to magnesium for best absorption.

Be strong and stay strong! Eat well and exercise regularly. Take care of your bones! Thinning of the bones can happen to the most healthy-looking people.

by Patra A. Mangus Bi-Nutrients Herbal Information Center

When I was a kid, there was two kinds of milk in my house: whole milk and instant milk. I loved milk, ice cream, and cheese! I still do! We had family dinners and ate our vegetables like good kids did. We ran and played, jumped rope, climbed trees. We did all of the things that old people reminisce about.