Building strong bones at breakfast

Every morning, you should be starting the day with a good dose of protein, fibre, and slowly-digested complex carbohydrates. A great (and fast) way to get these nutrients into your kids during the school morning rush is with a combination of wholegrain cereal and low-fat milk. If you want the added kick of vitamin C and some extra fibre, chopped fruit is also a great addition.

So what do you get in each bowl?

  • calcium
  • iron
  • zinc
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • selenium
  • vitamin A
  • B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12)

The calcium that children get from a bowl of cereal is vital. We build most of our bone strength when we are young, so we can avoid conditions like osteoporosis when we’re older. If we don’t get that bone strength, our bones become fragile, brittle, and easily broken – that’s why Osteoporosis has been called “a paediatric disease with geriatric consequences”.

Every six-to-seven minutes, someone in New Zealand suffers an osteoporotic fracture. This is expected to rise to every four-to-five minutes by the year 2020, as the population ages and the number of osteoporotic fractures increase.

To save our children from this painful future, we need to make sure they’re getting their daily intake of calcium, however many children are not meeting the recommendations for calcium intake. Overall, 15% of New Zealand children have an inadequate calcium intake, but this number increases for children aged 11–14 years (28.7% for males; 29.6% for females). This is a source of contention though, as experts around the world haven’t agreed on an optimal calcium intake.

Most kids get their daily calcium from milk, but you can boost this by including calcium-rich or fortified foods in their diet – especially breakfast! Wholegrain cereals and plain yoghurt are both great additions for a calcium-packed first meal of the day.

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