Childhood is when almost all the development of the body happens in children. It is during this time that your child’s bones develop, their brain development takes place, their height increases, and they mature into adults. While infancy is the period when children grow the fastest, no child will grow at a steady or same rate. Sometimes there may be mini growth spurts, or they might not show signs of growing. But, it is important to note that their bones and their skeletal system is constantly developing.
Every year, on average, a child grows about two inches. Girls start growing faster when they reach puberty, while boys may not see a growth spurt till the end of their adolescent years and might suddenly see a growth spurt. During these years, nutrition plays a very important role, and children must receive all adequate nutrients that help them in this development. Often, parents are unable to provide these nutrients as they aren’t aware of the required daily quantities of each vitamin, neither do they understand the role of each of them. Also it is very difficult to make the child eat a varied diet having all nutrients.
Why Growing Children Need Supplements for Bone Growth & Height?
Food nowadays is also not that nutrient rich as it used to be previously. This is where dietary supplements come in, so that children receive all the adequate nutrients they require for normal growth and development. Here are some reasons why supplements for bone and height growth are important.
1. Vitamins Received from Regular Dietary Intake Might Not Be Sufficient
The largest amount of bone tissue develops during childhood and adolescence, during which sufficient intake of Vitamin D and calcium is required. Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium and other minerals like phosphorous which are needed for bone and height growth. If there is inadequate Vitamin D in the body, calcium and phosphorous also will not be absorbed well. Some sources of calcium include milk and dairy products, green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, and soya milk, bread, and fish with bones. However, calcium does not get absorbed that easily, especially if you rely only on fatty dairy products for the major source of calcium. For calcium to be effective, children also need to get plenty of vitamin D that might again be difficult to get directly from sunlight and other foods. The unmet dietary needs have to be met with external supplements.
2. Many Vitamins are Directly Related to Bone Density and Fractures
Along with calcium and vitamin D, your body needs to have sufficient amounts of Vitamin A as it has been linked directly to healthy and strong bones. Both bone-building cells and bone-breaking down cells are influenced directly by Vitamin A. The body gets vitamin A from retinol, which can be derived from liver, oily fish, and fortified cereals amongst others. But what do you do if your child eats only vegetarian food? Your child can also get Vitamin A by consuming foods rich in beta carotene which then get broken down to retinol. Rich sources of beta carotene are yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables like carrots, beetroots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and mangoes. However, if the intake of these foods is not sufficient, a vitamin A deficiency may negatively affect bone density, amongst other problems.
3. Low Levels of Particular Vitamins in Childhood can Cause Osteoporosis in Their Future
Insufficient levels of vitamin D, A, and calcium can not only cause thin brittle bones in children, but it might lead to osteoporosis in the future. Osteoporosis is a condition that is a result of nutrition received when a person is younger. Even if your child receives just enough calcium and vitamin D and A, it is important to ensure that their daily needs get met every day as it might otherwise cause a lifelong deficiency.
4. Vitamins can Boost Height Growth, Especially in Growth-Retarded Children
Height in children is mainly influenced by their genes. Nutrition, physical exercise, and environment are the other two components that influence it to a great level. While Vitamin D and calcium support bone growth which is essential for the growth of height in young children, many other vitamins also play a role in height growth. Vitamin C is another vitamin that helps in the synthesis of collagen that not only helps increasing bone density but, is also said to affect height. Similarly, studies have also shown that Zinc supplements can help increasing height, especially in children who face slow growth.
5. Vitamin Deficiency can Cause Stunted Growth and can Affect Height
While vitamin supplements can be beneficial in increasing height and improving bone density, a vitamin deficiency can also result in stunted growth which can be caused due to the lack of sufficient vitamins. So even if your child could have grown taller if provided dietary supplements, a lack of vitamins might stop them from growing.
6. Growth of Height and Bones Stops After a Certain Age
Another important reason why growing children must be given dietary supplements is that bones only grow until a certain age. Between the ages 18 to 20, the height growth also stops as the growth plates stop developing any further. Post this, any amount of supplements to increase the height will have no results. It is important to provide children with nutrient rich food and supplements in their growing years so that they can meet their daily requirements and receive all the important nutrients required for bone and height growth as there are only so many years during which a child grows.
If the dietary requirements from infancy to the end of adolescence are unmet, chances are that your child might face a lifelong deficiency that will manifest as broken bones or stunted growth in the future. The first step towards avoiding this is understanding the role of each vitamin and the daily dietary requirements. Consult your child’s physician as they might be able to help you understand better and will help you identify the correct nutrients that are missing. Your focus should be on buying natural supplements that have correct doses ( No over dosage or under dosage) that have no side effects. Consult your child’s doctor to rule out the allergens, or any possible after-effects and also to determine the daily dosage required for your child. Along with supplements, ensure that your child gets enough exercise and eats a balanced nutritious diet as it plays an essential role during these growth years.