How To Make Strong Bones In Children & Teens

July 8, 2024

Remember the messaging for kids to drink milk with each meal to grow big and strong bones? Up to 90% of peak bone mass is achieved by the age of 18 in girls and 20 in boys, making it a critical period for bone development. Strong bones built during this time provide a foundation for lifelong skeletal health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life. So while it may not be at the top of their minds during those adolescent years, bone health at this age sets the foundation for bone health for the rest of their lives. Today we will be talking all about foods and nutrients needed for healthy bones along with ways to incorporate these foods into your family’s meals.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. To start today's discussion, let me ask you a question. When you think of people who should be concerned about their bones, does a certain demographic come to mind, or does your mind automatically go to women of a certain age at risk for osteoporosis or thinning bones?

Do you ever think about the importance of bone health in children and adolescents? Maybe when you were growing up or when you were raising children yourself there was the message to drink milk with each meal to grow strong bones.

Well, today we'll be talking about all foods for healthy bones in adolescence. Most teenagers maybe aren't thinking about their bone health. I'm guessing they're not.

BRANDY: Right.

MELANIE: That's not their top priority, but something they might be concerned about is preventing that sprain, fracture, or bone break while doing their sports or their activities that they love. Adolescence is a critical period for bone development and the choices we make in our youth can impact our skeletal health for the rest of our lives.

So many of the time a client will come to me with osteoporosis or osteopenia. And we don't really see, she says, I've been active my whole life, I don't really understand how we got here. But then we track back to their childhood. Maybe she didn't eat that well. Maybe she had a problem with digestion. And I say, well, you could have really lost bone or not developed a good bone in your teens.

BRANDY: Yeah. Cause it started a lot earlier, right?

MELANIE: A lot earlier. But we always think that whenever you get a diagnosis that it happened right now.


MELANIE: And that's not always the case with osteoporosis. Well before going further, let me introduce myself and my cohost. I'm Melanie Beasley. I'm a Licensed and Registered Dietitian and I've been practicing dietetics in the field of nutrition for 35 years. And joining me today is Brandy Buro, who's, you heard her voice. She's also a Licensed and Registered Dietitian. Welcome, Brandy. Good to see you.

BRANDY: Good to see you too, Mel. Thanks for having me here today. I'm really happy to be discussing this topic. It's so important. And I think it's kind of overlooked a lot of the time.

MELANIE: I agree.

BRANDY: But you know, during your teen years, bones and growing and the strengthening of those bones are actually at their peak. And actually about 90 percent of your bone mass is developed by the time you're 18 if you're a girl and about 90% age 20 if you're a boy. So this is a really critical time period in your bone development, and building your bones during this time sort of lays the foundation for your skeletal health for the rest of your life.

And this is what's going to help reduce the risk of developing osteopenia or osteoporosis or the risk of a bone break or a fracture later in life. So you're right. It's probably not at the top of every kid's or teen's mind. That's not really what they're worried about at that age.

MELANIE: Not the focus.


MELANIE: Thank goodness. Right?

BRANDY: But the fact is that your bone health at this age kind of sets the stage for your skeletal health for the rest of your life.

MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah. It's critical. And bones can be a little softer when they're kids. I know they can break more easily jumping on trampolines.


MELANIE: So it's important to understand that when we talk about bone health, we often talk about ways to improve your bones after you've been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis or after you've gotten a fracture or a bone break. But in the nutrition world, we're always thinking about prevention and bones are no different in that regard. Prevention is key.

So you don't get that scary osteoporosis diagnosis later in life and you lower your risk of a severe bone break if you fall. So I want to tell you about a client of mine. It was a man in his late fifties who came to me because he had osteoporosis and he had developed osteoporosis when he was a young child. He was undiagnosed with celiac disease.

He also had an autoimmune disorder and he was smaller framed. And so he fractured a lot when he was a child, but no one thought, hey, maybe we should check a DEXA scan because that's what seniors do. And by the time he was finally diagnosed, he had had multiple fractures throughout his lifetime and he had severe osteoporosis.

That's not the group. that we think, oh, well, you're at risk, but how much help could he have had if this had been something forward in his mind when he was young and someone would have taken him under their wing.

BRANDY: And some signs were there, right?

MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah.

BRANDY: Reoccurring fractures, young age.

MELANIE: Digestive health.


MELANIE: Just a really painful childhood.

BRANDY: Oh, that's so unfortunate, but for all you listeners out there, you're in luck because we're going to set you up for success if you have littles or grandkids, you know, you can help them.


BRANDY: It starts now.

MELANIE: Awareness is key.

BRANDY: Exactly. And when I was a kid and a teen, I definitely was not thinking about my bones. I was invincible. That's kind of the attitude that you have. And I definitely wasn't thinking about bone health when it comes to the foods that I was eating. And especially when I was a younger kid, I was eating a lot of processed foods. It was cereal every day for breakfast. I thought I was doing well with a little bit of milk that I was putting in there, but honestly, more sugar than it was helpful.

MELANIE: It was a breakfast of champions. That's what we were told.

BRANDY: We were told it was good for you. And even though my mom did prioritize including some good protein with all of our dinners, I preferred to gravitate towards the mashed potatoes and the pasta. And then, between meals I was snacking on chips or I was a big soda drinker, so I did not realize at the time how much sugar I was eating and that it was really damaging my bones.

MELANIE: Yeah, and I have two daughters who were both physically active and so falling and breaking a bone or spraining an ankle, you know, it was a concern. I mean, they were in combat karate when they were kids and they were on stage. They were doing performances. I mean, very active in track.

So I always tried to feed them real foods, like lots of protein, vegetables, healthy fats to support their bones and their muscles. But it always was not easy with teenage girls. I always say you better take care of me when I'm old because you are a challenge because they're, they're picky. They have opinions, which they should have opinions, but especially girls, they tend to not want to eat much. They want to fly out the door cause they're running late.

So one trick I learned is that it's important to teach them how diet will directly impact their life and the activities that they are so passionate about. So instead of saying eat this for healthy bones, I reframe it. So it's eat this so you can perform better at your games or your competitions. I'm going to tell on my oldest. She was notorious for not hydrating and eating properly. And then they would go through a karate training where invariably she would either pass out or throw up because her blood sugar would drop.

So that motivated her. And so when we started talking about, okay, we need to feed your body so it can withstand this hour and a half training. And so she did and then she felt better. So she made that connection, but, you are less likely to sprain, fracture, break a bone if you fall if you are well nourished. So you don't want to have to sit out the rest of the season or a game or a competition. And so that is the key to an adolescent or a child's attention is we want you to succeed as much as you do, and here's the key.

BRANDY: Connecting it to something that's really important to them today.

MELANIE: Absolutely. I mean, I'm like that to this very day. If it's not really, if you can't make it make sense to me.

BRANDY: Right.

MELANIE: I lose interest.

BRANDY: Yeah, what's the point? Yeah, perspective is everything when it comes to eating well. And when it comes to this age group, kids and teens, You're right. A lot of them are more focused on like their performance, whether it's basketball, gymnastics, or even more academia. No matter what good food is important.

And it's important for them to have strong bone bones in order to perform their best, especially if it's, you know, a physical athletic event, and just avoiding injury and kind of their day to day activities. Even if they're not an athlete, just riding their bike. Or doing the, you know, summer Bible camp, something like that. There's lots of opportunity to get hurt. And, when I was growing up, strong bones was definitely emphasized.

MELANIE: I think mostly in commercials.

BRANDY: In commercials. My grandparents were really pushing the milk on me. I'd always have a glass of milk next to my place setting when I went over there for breakfast or dinner.

MELANIE: Did you at home too?

BRANDY: Well, at home, it was encouraged. The jug of milk was right there on the dinner table. But honestly, I hated it. Oh, yeah. I really just did not like the taste of milk unless it was loaded up with chocolate. So I was just kind of choking it down a lot of the time. And I really didn't like the way that it made me feel anyway, and now I know that there are lots of other ways to get calcium other than just milk or dairy foods.

MELANIE: Yeah. Good point.

Dairy is a common food sensitivity

BRANDY: And you know, so many people are sensitive to dairy products that we do need to find other sources to get that calcium. Another thing is that many kids are choosing dairy products that are loaded with sugar or maybe artificial dyes. I'm thinking like a fruit flavored yogurt. Or those flavored milks, strawberry, banana.

MELANIE: Yeah, caramel macchiato. Had my glass of milk and a caramel macchiato.

BRANDY: For real, yeah, there's so many different products out there. A lot of them with these additives that aren't serving us. And plus, the cows that produce conventional dairy milk are often raised with lots of hormones and antibiotics.

MELANIE: We get a residual from that.

BRANDY: We do. It is passed on to you. But, you know, if you do tolerate and eat dairy regularly, I encourage you to buy organic dairy for any dairy product that you choose. That way you can avoid a lot of those additives. And many people honestly choose not to eat dairy at all because it is one of the most common food sensitivities and they just feel so much better without it.

MELANIE: I think I read something where it's close to 70 percent of people that just don't tolerate it.

BRANDY: Yeah, and I see that in clinic all the time. A lot of people have a problem with dairy. And another point that relates to our topic today as we're talking about kids and teens is that dairy is oftentimes a very big trigger for acne.


BRANDY: Yes. And that's something that I would say everybody wants to avoid, but especially teens. They're so focused on their appearance at this time in their life. So, when I'm working one on one with a teen who is struggling with acne, one of the first things we might try is just a temporary experiment to remove all the dairy, try it for a few weeks, and usually they are noticing a pretty significant improvement in their acne.


BRANDY: I usually like to have them take like a before and after picture. So when we start the experiment, take a picture, see where it's at. Three or four weeks later, take another picture and compare just so you can actually see the difference.

MELANIE: That's a great idea. I'm going to do that.

BRANDY: Yep. And they're pretty surprised. You know, the seeing the improvement in their acne, it's enough motivation for them to avoid dairy altogether.

MELANIE: All they have to do is have one big cheat day with dairy and see the results and that it just goes back to motivating them.

BRANDY: Exactly. And I do want to note that during this experiment, I do encourage that we try to incorporate lots of other food sources that contain calcium, so that they're still getting those nutrients. They're not missing out on anything.

What are some rich sources of calcium?

MELANIE: It may come as no surprise as dietitians that we want you to eat green vegetables, which actually are a rich source of good available calcium. So as a mom, I know that asking your kids to eat vegetables will often send them running, especially if they haven't been raised from little tots on up eating vegetables. But one trick I used was a recipe that used ground meat to blend it up with chopped up vegetables like spinach and broccoli.

And the key is run that spinach and broccoli through the food processor. So it's almost like baby food. And then it blends nicely into meatballs. And one of the favorites at our house was meatloaf muffins. So it was meatloaf in a muffin tin. Cause I could pull them out depending upon the activity, how many I would grab.

BRANDY: That sounds great.

MELANIE: But I would fold in vegetables that way; grinds up everything. You can't really see it. The kids love the meatballs. They love the mini meatloaves from the muffin tin.

BRANDY: I've even done that with taco meat, ground beef, chopped up spinach. You cannot taste it. You can't really see it.

MELANIE: And that the flavoring, the spices that you use when you have something that's very spice forward, you're not really going to pick up on a vegetable that's in there. But the trick is you got to hide it or the gig is up. So it's one of my tricks as a mom to get my kids to get more vegetables to support their bones.

BRANDY: You know, and I meet with moms and parents all the time and they do have a lot of questions about their kids that have dairy sensitivities or dairy allergies, and they're worried about their calcium intake because they know that it's associated with bone health. So they're just trying to look out for them.

But the truth is there are a lot of great non-dairy sources of calcium. So, if you're focusing on a variety of vegetables, nuts and seeds, all of those foods will provide some calcium.

MELANIE: Yeah. And adequate vitamin D, calcium, those are players, but they're not the only players.

BRANDY: Right. Right.

MELANIE: If we're getting that good variety and lots of protein, lots of leafy green vegetables, though it's really important for overall for bone health. And then let's talk about calcium fortified drinks like almond milk or orange juice. If you've walked down the refrigerator section of the grocery store and looked at the cartons and cartons of nut milks and orange juice, you might have seen a statement many times that says, “great source of calcium” or “fortified with calcium” proudly presented on these cartons.

Well, this form is usually calcium carbonate. So listeners write that down: calcium carbonate, which isn't a well absorbed form and can potentially even be harmful when consumed in excess. Plus orange juice really is just too much sugar and nut milks have a whole bunch of other additives like gums to make that consistently something that we like, but that can create a whole host of digestive problems. So we don't recommend these fortified sources of calcium in beverages. They're poorly absorbed and can even do damage. And we will continue this discussion after a short break.


BRANDY: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today we are discussing foods to build strong bones in adolescence. So let's get back to our conversation. Before we left for break, Melanie was just describing the fact that there are so many beverages that have, kind of, they're fortified with calcium, but it's not always the best type of calcium. That calcium carbonate is probably what you'll find in the orange juice or the plant based milks, but actually it's not really well absorbed.

MELANIE: No. So listeners always roll the label over, read on the back, reading the ingredients. If you're seeing calcium carbonate, put it back on the shelf. It is not something that you want.

Other minerals & vitamins important for bone health

BRANDY: Exactly. Not all forms of calcium are created equal. Some do actually more harm than good. But besides calcium, there are other nutrients. There are other minerals and vitamins that are really important for bone health. So one that I wanted to bring up was vitamin D.


Vitamin D is important for bone health

BRANDY: I think by now a lot of us understand vitamin D is important for bone health, but you know, I want to talk about how, why, where do we get it?


BRANDY: So vitamin D is important because it actually helps the body absorb the calcium from your foods efficiently. And sunlight is actually the primary source of vitamin D. And there are some limited food sources. For instance, there's fatty fish like salmon, or if you get really high quality eggs, pasture raised eggs with the yolk. That deep yellow or orange color is what you're looking for. But for most people, supplementing with vitamin D is necessary, you know, especially in regions where you're not getting a lot of sunlight.

MELANIE: Or you're so far from the sun, like us in Minnesota. We are quite a distance from the sun.

BRANDY: Exactly.

MELANIE: So I'll have clients say, well, I don't take my vitamin D in the summer when I'm, I always ask them, well, are you tanning for an hour in your bikini?

BRANDY: Exactly.

MELANIE: Because that's what you have to do in order to get enough vitamin D.


MELANIE: So without sunscreen.

BRANDY: Without sunscreen, most of your skin exposed at the peak sunlight hours. What is it like between the hours of 10 and two, something like that. So what are we doing at that time? Most of us are at work or at school inside. So that opportunity isn't really capitalized on as much as you think.

MELANIE: Agreed.

BRANDY: So for teens, I usually recommend supplementing with at least 1,000 international units of vitamin D every single day. Especially if they're somebody that's indoors most of the time. And really, it's a good idea just to get your level tested; to know what your level is so you know how much you need to supplement.

MELANIE: It's unfortunate: a lot of insurance companies will not cover that now.


MELANIE: So I just say cover your bases.


MELANIE: You want to be, you want to be careful to protect your bones as an adult, but as children growing as well.

BRANDY: Yep. Yeah. And if you don't get it tested, I think you're safe to supplement with that 1,000 international units.

MELANIE: Oh yeah. Yeah. And now they make for children that don't swallow pills, you can buy it in a drop form. It doesn't taste like anything.

BRANDY: That's right.

MELANIE: One drop.

BRANDY: Yep. Really easy to take. If you are getting your levels tested though, what you want to watch for is a level above 50 nanograms per milliliter. You know, that's kind of the optimal range, 50 to 80. So if you're in the single digits or the teens or the twenties, you really want to be supplementing with more.

MELANIE: And just a little side note, I've been doing this for a long time and in 35 years, I've never seen one person have toxicity symptoms from too much vitamin D; not one, so you don't have to be afraid.

BRANDY: Yeah. Yeah. There's some news out there, I think around vitamin D.

MELANIE: Ridiculous.

BRANDY: It's pretty safe. It's really important to get it. It not only has a really important role in your bone health, but it has so many roles in your physical and mental health that it is essential.

Magnesium plays a role in bone health

MELANIE: Yeah, it can really improve mood when you have someone who's got a low vitamin D and you get them optimal level up there. So if you're a long time listener, you'll not be surprised we're going to talk about magnesium. Usually we speak of its importance for sleep and muscle cramps, but what role does it play in bone health? In fact, 50 to 60 percent of the body's magnesium is found in our bones. So it's an equal player to calcium.

BRANDY: I would say so.

MELANIE: We usually recommend supplementing with magnesium because most of us don't get enough through diet alone. It's not like our grandparents could get it from the soil, which translated to both the animals and the plants that we're eating. It's just not that way anymore. However, if you are looking to increase your dietary magnesium intake, the highest amounts are found in nuts, seeds, avocados. And of course, again, we're bringing up green vegetables, which are some of the highest dietary sources of magnesium.

You may be thinking, I can't get my kids to eat all these green vegetables. So how am I going to make sure they're getting enough of these essential minerals like magnesium? Okay, here's my idea. Make a colorful smoothie. Teens love colorful smoothies or protein shakes.

You can start with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder like whey or Paleo Protein. Then add in a small banana for flavor plus added magnesium. You may think of bananas being a good source of potassium, but they also contain more magnesium than other fruits. Then you can add in a half an avocado or a scoop of nut or seed butter.

You want to do this without them watching, because you, you know, you're going to get the, oh gross. But it's actually that avocado makes it very creamy. So it is the seed butter or the nut butter and they're a good source of magnesium. We have some fabulous recipes on our website if you go to and hit the recipe tab; so many protein smoothie recipes.

Some are pink, some are green, some are yellow. They're delicious. And some people really love adding chia seeds to smoothies for that thickening factor if you like a really thick shake. Then finally toss in a couple of handfuls of leafy greens.

I like to do it frozen because we have less taste acuity with frozen super cold foods than we do with room temperature. So if I ever have greens that are looking like, oh, I don't think I have a couple of days left and I'll throw them in the freezer, put them in a smoothie. You won't be able to taste them, but it's a way to incorporate them into your child's or your diet if you're a picky eater.

Now protein shakes, our smoothies are a secret weapon I use for myself, my family, my clients as a way to pack in nutrients. So in high school, my daughters, it seemed like morning, they wanted to sleep in, typical teens, right up to the alarm. And then there was no time for a decent breakfast.

So they would have a smoothie every morning. And the trick was I made it super cold. I made it super sweet. A lot of times I would add additional sweetening with stevia or monk fruit, and then I put it in a cup that you couldn't see through with a wide straw, a lid and wide straw. So they, their friends weren't going to go, ew, you know, when they grabbed and took it on the bus, but it was an easy way. And I always snuck in vegetables.

BRANDY: They didn't know.

MELANIE: They didn't know, which was funny because then they would come back from a sleepover where they were eating junk food or even when they come back from college, they say, can you make me one of those smoothies?

BRANDY: Something about that smoothie just makes me feel so good.

MELANIE: It just feels like a power packed beverage, you know, full of nutrients. So anyway, if your children are suffering from muscle cramps or having trouble sleeping through the night, that's a big indicator they're not getting enough magnesium. So it's not a bad idea to supplement with magnesium for your children's growing bones. And for kids or teens, I like a liquid or a powder form of magnesium glycinate that we carry. There's a liquid one that tastes like apple pomegranate.

BRANDY: Yup. That one's good.

MELANIE: That one's really good. My favorite is actually, the powdered one that tastes like strawberry. It's called Reacted Magnesium. It’s my favorite. I look, actually look forward to it in the evening.

BRANDY: I have had clients tell me the same thing. It's like a little treat at night before they go to bed.

MELANIE: It’s magnesium, but it's delicious.

BRANDY: Yeah. And I think the powdered form or the liquid form, great for kids, but also there's plenty of adults that just have a hard time swallowing capsules. So that's a great way to get your magnesium. We all need it.

MELANIE: I love it.

BRANDY: And speaking of protein shakes, thank you for that. I love that description. Sounds like a great shake. The protein is so important and we know that protein is critical for bone health.

MELANIE: Bones are protein.

Protein provides main structure of the bone

BRANDY: Bones are protein. Protein provides the main structure of the bone. And as we've mentioned, bones are really a living tissue. They're continuously building up and breaking down and building up. And protein provides the building blocks to carry out that repair and regrowth process.


BRANDY: Right. So we need enough protein constantly to support that.

MELANIE: And a lot of teens just don't want to sit down and eat a bunch of chicken or eat a bunch of beef. You kind of have to be creative.

BRANDY: Exactly. So that's why I love like that protein shake idea. There's a lot of ways you can use protein powder, you know, do it yourself protein bar, mix it into some yogurt.

BRANDY: We could get really creative with it.

MELANIE: We could. We could go on and on. If they tolerate dairy, cottage cheese is an excellent source. We have a recipe that's to die for on our website. That's like a cottage cheese strawberry dessert. And then I think there's a peanut butter chocolate cottage cheese ice cream recipe. I can't do dairy, but have you tried it?

BRANDY: I have. I love it.

MELANIE: I'm jealous.

BRANDY: It's. That one goes over pretty well. Yeah. You, you're, you don't think you're eating cottage cheese, but we really need our teens and kids to be eating not just protein, but high quality, well absorbed protein. And that is going to come from animal based protein sources. Every single meal, three times a day, maybe four times a day if you can fit in a snack. Other kid friendly options for protein would be something like nitrate free deli meat or sausages. You can cut those up into bite size pieces, or you could do kebab some night on the grill; have some steak or chicken on a kebab with some colorful vegetables.


BRANDY: Kids love that. Even a simple hard boiled egg. I've found that with my clients, those handhelds or those finger foods go over really well with kids.

MELANIE: And kids are kind of, their palate is expanding and, they're loving like Asian flavors and sushi now. So I love egg roll in a bowl.


MELANIE: You can put egg in there, you can put chicken in there and it's small bite size instead of feeling like they're cutting into a big piece of meat.

BRANDY: Yeah. Ground meat might be a little easier.


BRANDY: Yep. And when I was growing up, like I mentioned, cereal was kind of the main breakfast for me most days. And now I know that cereal is really just sugar and it's harmful for my bones.

MELANIE: Yes. And I have a lot of times, I don't know about you, but I have people call in and ask, well, what's the healthiest cereal? And I tell them scrambled eggs. You know, there just isn't one. There is not a healthy cereal that I would ever recommend.

BRANDY: Yeah. I, I haven't found one either, so I'm going to use that line next time. And now my breakfasts are basically that. I cut the cereal out. I'm doing eggs and one of the best ways to do eggs for a busy week is an egg bake. So I get my baking pan out, nine by 13 inch pan.

I mix up some scrambled eggs with some nitrate free sausage, a variety of vegetables, whatever seasonings I'm in the mood for, maybe some fresh basil. I added fresh tomatoes this week. And then you bake it and you have a perfectly balanced breakfast for most of the week. Yeah. It's so simple.

MELANIE: Reheats really nice.

BRANDY: Exactly. It reheats ready to eat. And I actually heard from my clients that are parents that their kids are requesting the egg bake.

MELANIE: Oh, that's great.

BRANDY: Yeah, they love it. Even if there's chopped up spinach or broccoli in it. They know it's there They're still loving it.

MELANIE: Love that.

BRANDY: So I would say that getting your kids and teens started with a high protein breakfast is really important. It's going to help them feel so much better throughout the school day when they get that high protein breakfast. And we know that eating a breakfast that is rich in protein is a better choice for kids compared to cereal or those other high sugar breakfasts.

MELANIE: Their attention span, their energy, their ability to maintain their energy. If they are doing sports after school, a protein snack after school snack is also great. You know, deli meat roll ups: easy. Wrap it around a pickle with some cream cheese and you've got some protein that they can have that stamina.

Sugar has damaging effects

So let's talk a little bit more about just how damaging sugar is and how important it is that our kids stay away from it. Sugar is actually the number one thing we want to avoid for growing bones in our children. Sugar takes away essential nutrients like minerals from the bones and makes them weak and fragile. So when we say sugar, we aren't just talking about the obvious, the desserts and the donuts. It really means an ultra processed carbohydrate, which will turn into sugar, even chips and bagels and crackers, cereal bars and popcorn and fruit snacks.

I've said it before, but if you can't name the plant you pluck it from or the mother it came from, it's nutrient void. There's no cereal bar, there's no cracker bush, there's no chip root or bagel animal. And the list goes on and on. So, these are all things teenagers love to eat, but these ultra processed foods all break down into sugar in the body and hinder bone development and overall health.

Caffeine has some detrimental effects

Also, caffeine may interfere with the absorption of calcium. So, the trending caffeinated beverages now, whether it be those energy drinks, whether it be that coffee house, whether it be a chai tea, it really interferes with the absorption of calcium. And soda is so popular with young people, but it's really a risk for their bones with the double whammy of both caffeine, sugar and phosphoric acid.

BRANDY: Ah, yes. Yep.

MELANIE: So avoiding these foods that you can't pluck and you can't hunt it. It's just not a real food and it's not going to provide any nutrition. So they're going to be getting it when they're at school. They're going to be getting it when they go to a friend's house. So your job as parents is to try to nourish to the best of your ability so their bodies can take the hit when they have a sleepover.

BRANDY: Doing the best you can when you can.

MELANIE: Exactly.

BRANDY: And just thinking more about like that caffeine piece, what you said about the coffee shops, I think is true. Like every time I go to one, it's like the ultimate hang spot for teens. And I'm sure they're not getting plain coffee or an herbal tea, you know?

MELANIE: So it's a good bet.

BRANDY: Yeah. Yeah. Unless they've met with me and they're making better choices. But if you look at like the typical coffee order, like a medium sized specialty drink, it has that double whammy of not just caffeine, but sugar. Like 40 to 70 grams of added sugar.

MELANIE: You may as well have a slice of cake.

BRANDY: Exactly. Yep. Yep. Dessert in a cup. Another way to look at it is it's about 17 teaspoons of added sugar in just that one cup. So add that to the other drinks and the other foods that you have throughout the day that have sugar. Think like fruit juice, sports drinks, those energy drinks, slushies, soda. It's really putting their bones at risk. That's so much sugar.

MELANIE: And it's not just sugar. It's high fructose corn syrup. It's the worst of the worst. It's the cheapest form of sugar that you can get.

BRANDY: Exactly. And I thought that a surprising statistic from the American Heart Association is that children in America consume an average of 32 teaspoons of added sugar every day. So it's not just from these drinks, it's not just from candy or desserts, but it's in things that you might even think are healthy: yogurt, fruit cups, granola, protein bars, even things like ketchup and barbecue sauce. It's everywhere, that added sugar.


MELANIE: We've talked a lot about the importance of fueling children and teenagers to protect their bones, so they don't enter into adulthood with compromised bones. So, to set the foundation for healthy bones, children and teens need to eat animal proteins, they need to think eggs and leafy greens and healthy fats.

And that is going to set them up for success. So as a parent, you'll have less guilt because you did your very best. And as a child, you can look back and thank those parents one day that you do have healthy bones, strong bones headed into adulthood.

BRANDY: It's so important to get that support you need to follow that meal plan with enough protein, those nutrient rich vegetables, healthy fats. And if this is something that's a challenge for you, your family, your children, give us a call at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Meet with one of our dietitians or nutritionists.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling

Any one of us would be happy to help you figure this out, come up with a personalized meal plan, some strategies that work for you and your children so that you set them up for success. Teens I think need some extra support in this time in their life.

MELANIE: I agree. And I think you're great with them.

BRANDY: Thanks Mel.

MELANIE: Yeah, a hundred percent. I would make an appointment with Brandy. We all of our nutritionists, but I know that you work well with teens.

BRANDY: I do enjoy it. And we're not the food police. We're here to support you. So give us a call, talk through your options with us. Our number here is 651-699-3438. Or you can visit our website at and read about all the options we have to offer.

MELANIE: Yes. Building strong bones is a long term investment and helping your team make small, consistent changes to incorporate bone healthy foods and habits can lead to lifelong benefits in overall health and especially bone health. It's worth the effort and we're here to help.

Our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness if to help each every person to experience better health through eating real food. It’s a simple but powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. We thank you for joining us today.

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