Bone is living tissue that changes constantly, growing in length and density until around age 20. Bone growth spurts take place at about 11–14 years of age for girls and 13–17 years of age for boys. During these growth spurts the body can build over 30 per cent of adult bone mass.
By 20 years of age, the body will lay down about 95 per cent of lifetime bone tissue. After age 30, the body begins to lose bone as a natural part of aging. Bone growth, maintenance, and gradual loss with age take place through a process called remodeling.
Learn more about bones
For some individuals, bone loss can reach a point where bones become so thin they break easily. This is called osteoporosis. While bone loss is a natural part of aging, osteoporosis is not. The risk of developing osteoporosis later in life depends on how dense bones became during developing years and how much is lost in later years.
Calcium is critical to maintain life. Just about every cell in the body, including cells in the heart, nerves, and muscles rely on calcium to function properly. About one per cent of the calcium in our bodies is found in blood; it ensures essential body functions take place and keep us alive. Calcium is also in our teeth, but most is stored in our bones – making our skeletons strong.
The body is not able to make calcium so we have to get it from food. Bones are like a bank account for calcium; a place where the body can deposit and withdraw the mineral. If we don’t take in enough calcium from food, it’s taken from our bones to make sure blood levels support essential body functions. To keep our bones at their best, it’s important to consume enough calcium to meet the body’s needs.
Read more about how your whole body counts on calcium.
Best sources of calcium
Each day, it is best to consume as much of the calcium you need from food sources that provide many additional nutrients to support good health.
Osteoporosis Canada states that dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium. They contain high amounts of calcium that are easily absorbed by the body. While many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes contain calcium, it is often not as readily absorbed as the calcium from dairy products, or is present in relatively small amounts.
Read more about calcium
Milk contains a sugar called lactose. Some people are not able to digest large amounts of lactose at one time. This isn’t dangerous, but can cause gas, stomach bloating, or diarrhea.
Can I still drink milk?
Lactose affects people differently. Some people with lactose intolerance can drink a glass of milk while others may have symptoms after drinking half a cup. Studies show that most people with lactose intolerance can still enjoy milk products. In fact, many can adapt to lactose by drinking small amounts of milk with food.
Lactose intolerance can be temporary. It can be caused by an illness or medicines that affect the digestive system.
Learn more about managing lactose intolerance.
Is lactose intolerance and a milk allergy the same thing?
No! Lactose intolerance is a condition where people have difficulty digesting the naturally occurring sugar in milk called lactose. A milk allergy is a reaction to the protein in milk. The key difference is that lactose intolerance can be managed so that people with the condition can still enjoy dairy products. People with a milk allergy, although rare, must avoid all dairy products.