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Teens, Young Adults Need More Calcium

Consumption of bone-building dairy products declines in late teens, research shows

THURSDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- Young people tend to cut down on bone-strengthening dairy products as they enter their 20s -- just when their body needs it most, new research finds.

In a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, a majority of the 1,500 participants reduced their calcium intake in high school and the years immediately following high school. More than half of the males and more than two-thirds of the females consumed less than the daily recommended level of calcium at the end of each of those time periods, the researchers found.

The study findings are published in the July issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Because human bone mass peaks when a person is in their 30s, consuming sufficient amounts of calcium, protein and vitamin D -- all found in dairy products -- during the teen and young-adult years is considered key to lowering the risk of osteoporosis and some other health issues in later life. According to nutrition experts at Harvard University, calcium can also be found in certain greens, fortified soy milk, and supplements.

About 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day is recommended for high school-aged children and 1,000 millgrams a day for young adults, according to a news release from the journal.

Increased availability of milk at mealtime, a proper attitude and approach to weight, health and nutrition, and a taste for milk were linked to greater consumption of calcium during these critical years, the study authors noted. Excessive television watching and lactose intolerance were tied to lower calcium levels.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about calcium and children.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, news release, June 15, 2009

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