The crucial bone building years

The teenage years are a major growth period. In fact, over roughly two years (ages 12-14 for girls and ages 13-15 for boys) teens' bodies build one-quarter of their adult bone mass. With this in mind, it is vital that teenagers have enough calcium-rich foods such as dairy foods, participate in plenty of exercise and get sufficient vitamin D to ensure their bones have the building blocks needed to grow and be strong.

  • How much dairy do teens need?

    Between the ages of 12-18 years, calcium requirements increase. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that this age group have 3 ½ serves of from the dairy food group every day. The dairy food group is one of the five food groups and includes milk, cheese, yogurt and/or alternatives.

    A serve is simply one cup of milk (250ml), two slices of cheese (40g) or ¾ of a cup of yogurt (200g).

    Fortunately, getting enough serves from the dairy food group couldn't be simpler. If a teen starts the day with a cheese toastie or a berry smoothie for breakfast and finishes with a calcium-rich pasta bake and a hot milky drink for dinner they’ll be well on their way to strong and healthy bones for life.


  • The key to strength - exercising outdoors.

    Just like muscles, bones grow stronger and harder when they are exercised and for this to happen, it is essential that teens do regular ‘weight bearing exercise’. Put simply, this means any exercise where your feet and legs carry your weight.  Examples include running or jumping and activities such as football, tennis, netball or dancing.

    Exercising outdoors will also help when it comes to achieving the third factor for healthy, strong bones – getting vitamin D from safe sun exposure. During summer in the southern parts of Australia, and all year round in the north, most of us need a few minutes a day of sun exposure to an area of skin equivalent to your face, arms and hands to help with our vitamin D levels. In winter in the southern parts of Australia, most of us need about two to three hours per week of safe sun exposure.

    And, after exercise, remember that milk is a wholesome drink that contains nutrients needed by the body to rehydrate, refuel and repair - an added bonus!