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What is Needed for Proper Bone Development?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bone development is an important health concern for individuals of all ages. In infants and young children, improper bone development can lead to stunted growth, while in adults it can cause osteoporosis, a weakening of the bone structure which makes sufferers highly prone to fractures. Luckily, research has shown that there are several steps which can be taken throughout one’s life to promote healthy bone development. These include maintaining a diet rich in calcium as well as vitamins C, A, and D, absorbing adequate amounts of sunlight, and exercising regularly.

Calcium is perhaps the most important agent in the promotion of healthy bone development. This nutrient makes up a significant part of the bones’ composition, lending them strength and solidity. For optimal bone health, adults should attempt to consume between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, beans, green leafy vegetables like bok choy, and bony fish.

Several vitamins also play a significant role in healthy bone development. Among these is vitamin C, which stimulates the production of the collagen — a protein present in the connective tissue of the bones — and aids the body’s absorption of calcium. Adults should consume between 75 and 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily. Citrus fruits, pepper, tomatoes, leafy greens, and potatoes are all good natural sources of vitamin C.

Another key player in bone health is vitamin A. Like vitamin C, vitamin A is thought to aid calcium absorption. It also stimulates the production of the cells responsible for constructing new bone. Vitamin A-rich foods include liver, egg yolks, cheese, leafy greens, and orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A falls between 2,330 and 3,000 international units (IU). It should be noted that some research actually links excess consumption of vitamin A to decreased bone health.

Of all nutrients, vitamin D is perhaps the most important to calcium absorption, and is thus critical to the maintenance of strong, healthy bones. Vitamin D is found in dairy products and in some fish. It is also sometimes added to breakfast cereals. Those under 50 years of age should strive to intake 200 IU of vitamin D each day. As the bones become more susceptible to osteoporosis with age, vitamin D intake should be increased to 400 IU at age 50, and 600 IU at 70.

Adequate sunlight exposure can also play a significant role in bone development. This is because absorbed sunlight is turned by the body into vitamin D, and can thus prove a valuable alternate source of this important vitamin. Three 15-minute periods of sun exposure weekly will in most cases provide the body with its required dosage of vitamin D. It is important to note, however, that excess unprotected sun exposure can lead to skin cancer.

Finally, exercise can also contribute to healthy bone development. Regular workouts, particularly those that utilize weights, stimulate the production of bone tissue, thus strengthening the bones. This type of exercise also strengthens the muscles, creating a support system for the bones and reducing the chances of bone-related injury.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including WiseGeek. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Dec 03, 2014

Normally, those who are regularly exposed to sunlight shouldn't have a problem with vitamin D. But we're not all getting enough sunlight. That's why I buy milk with vitamin D to make sure that the calcium in the milk actually works.

By burcinc — On Dec 02, 2014

@candyquilt-- Actually, lack of exercise is threatening bone development in children too. Kids are now spending too much time in front of the television and computer. They are getting less exercise and leading sedentary lifestyles. Since they are not outside as much, they are also getting less sunlight which is essential for bone development. If a child also has a poor diet without enough calcium, minerals and vitamins, bone development and growth can be stumped.

Doctors are not highlighting the importance of these for children. I've personally placed a limit on how many hours my kids can spend with TV or computer. I make sure they exercise and play outside and get all the calcium they need in their diet. I urge all parents to do the same.

By candyquilt — On Dec 02, 2014

Children are already fairly active so this is usually not a problem for them. But it's also important for individuals to be active all their life to prevent the debilitating condition of osteoporosis. Many elderly are facing this health condition. Their bones become brittle and easily fracture. I read a report on this recently. I keep up with osteoporosis news because my dad suffers from it. The report mentioned that regular exercises helps slow down the progression of osteoporosis and those who already do this are less like to develop it in the first place.

Regular exercise doesn't mean hours of challenging exercises. My dad walks at least half an hour every day and also does some back exercises at home. This is enough at his age to help slow down osteoporosis.

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
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