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Around the age of 6, your child will pass through a sensitive stage between childhood and teenage. At this stage, he will seek independence, social recognition, peer group relations and personal decision-making including his choices of food. It is without doubt that external factors affect his food choices very much. Therefore, as the mother, you have to make an extra effort to control the factors related to food and try to correct them whenever necessary.

This growth period in your child's life is a very important development stage that is irreversible. Children normally grow 6 cm in height each year and at this phase, he needs the right nutrition to build healthy and strong bones for life; and protect him from osteoporosis in the future.

How to nurture and protect your child's bones?

Proper nutrition:

Take care of your child's nutrition by providing him with the appropriate food choices for this stage. The most important vitamins and minerals for building strong bones are:

  • Calcium: Your child's bones need high amounts of calcium as it is a major component of bones. It combines with phosphorous to form the collagen that holds the bones together and increases their thickness. Children at this age need 800mg of calcium daily. You can provide your child with this amount by offering him 2 glasses of milk and a serving of dairy products like yoghurt, labneh and cheese.
  • Phosphorous: After calcium, children need phosphorous to form bones. This mineral you can find in milk, meat, chicken, fish, eggs and legumes.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is considered an outsider to other vitamins because it is not really part of the diet. Children absorb a little vitamin D of what they eat. However, most of the amount they get is from their exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous which are needed to build bones. Another major source of Vitamin D for children is drinking Vitamin D-fortified milk.
  • Exercise: Exercise helps build strong bones especially weight-bearing exercise. This type of activity, where your child is in a standing position and his legs bearing his body weight helps build bone tissue which makes the bones stronger and also strengthens his muscles.

Weight-bearing exercises:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Stair climbing
  • Jumping rope
  • Karate and Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Team games such as basketball, football, volleyball

To ensure that your child's bones are strong during his school years and in the future, encourage him to eat a varied and balanced diet rich in Calcium, Phosphorous and Vitamin D, and encourage him to exercise in order to strengthen his muscles and bones.

(This article is developed by the NIDO® Child Development Expert Panel)

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