Bone Health in School-Age Children: Effects of Nutritional Intake on Outcomes

The maximum rate of bone mass accumulation occurs during the school-age years and plateaus in late adolescence, after which little incremental accrual will occur. School age is thus a final period “investment” in bone health to decrease the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in later life. This paper discusses the approaches to optimizing mineral nutrition in school-age children 5 to 15 years of age, which requires attention to an overall healthy diet including adequate calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin D. Special concerns may exist related to children who follow a restricted diet such as a vegan diet, those with intolerance or allergies to dairy, and those with chronic health conditions including young adolescents with eating disorders. However, dietary recommendations for minerals tend to be higher in amounts in North America than in Europe, so further work is needed to reconcile these differences. Public policy messages should focus on positive aspects of bone health nutrition in this age group and avoid overly specific statements about the exact amounts of foods needed for healthy bones. In addition, the management of many children with chronic illnesses includes the use of medications that may affect their bone mineral metabolism. Routine lab testing for bone mineral metabolism including serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels is not indicated, but is valuable for at-risk children, especially those with chronic illnesses.

Source: Abrams SA (2021) Bone Health in School-Age Children: Effects of Nutritional Intake on Outcomes. Front. Nutr. 8:773425. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.773425.