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Publication #FAR8039

Bone Health1

Jacob Young and Jennifer Hillan2

Figure 1. 
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When planning your family meals, you probably try to make sure your children get enough calcium and vitamin D, perhaps including a fresh cup of milk. Since milk is full of calcium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients, it's one of the best foods for building strong bones. People who don't get enough calcium or vitamin D are at risk for osteoporosis: weak bones that are more likely to fracture.

Our bones reach what is called "peak bone mass" at about age 30. After that, we tend to lose more calcium from our bones than we deposit, causing the bones to become porous and weak. The good news is that you're never too young or too old to improve your bone health.

So children aren't the only family members who need calcium in their daily diet. Children ages 9-18 need 1,300 milligrams; adults 19-50 need 1,000; and adults 51 and older need nearly as much as growing children, or 1,200 milligrams. To put this in terms of food, a cup of milk or yogurt has about 300 milligrams of calcium. If we have three servings of dairy foods each day, we can get the rest of the calcium we need from other foods, such as tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods and beverages. Fortified foods are the main sources of vitamin D in our diets, so check the food label to be sure your family is getting enough (Centers for Disease Control, 1997).

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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Centers for Disease Control. (1997). Your family's calcium needs. [25 September 2012].

Farley, D. (1997). Bone builders: Support your bones with healthy habits. [25 September 2012].

Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. (1997). Dietary reference intakes for calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, and fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.



This document is FAR8039, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Broadcast as program 266 in January 2007. Published on EDIS September 2012. In the interest of time or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified.Visit the EDIS website at


Jacob Young, undergraduate student, and Jennifer Hillan, nutrition educator, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.