There is a calcium crisis in the United States, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System website. The basis of this conclusion lies in a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating that only 13.5 percent of boys ages 12 to 19 get the calcium their bodies need for proper bone health. Soda and junk foods have replaced calcium-rich foods, which is unfortunate, since it’s during a boy’s teen years that bones experience the most significant growth. In addition, many teen boys participate in athletic activities, further stressing a musculoskeletal system affected by low calcium levels.
Teen boys between ages 13 and 18 require a minimum of 1,300 milligrams of calcium each day. The more calcium the bones absorb during this time, the longer, stronger and denser they become. According to the National Institutes of Health, boys achieve up to 90 percent of their "peak" bone mass by the age of 20 -- approximately half of this bone growth is during adolescence. If calcium intake is insufficient during the childhood and adolescent years, bones do not reach their peak mass.
More soda means less milk and citrus drinks in a teen boy’s diet. Soda lacks the calcium benefits that come from chugging down a glass of ice-cold milk or orange juice. To make matters worse, the phosphates in soda leech calcium from the bones. This reduces bone strength during the time when a teen boy needs it most. The Alabama Cooperative Extension website explains that this increase in soda and decrease in calcium-fortified drinks accounts for an increased amount of fractures in children and teens.
Low calcium levels during the teen years have serious consequences on a person's body later in life as well. According to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s website, teen boys who fail to achieve their peak bone density are susceptible to osteoporosis. The body continuously absorbs and replaces bone tissue. Osteoporosis occurs when the body is unable to replenish bone as quickly as it absorbs it. The result is dry, brittle bones that are subject to fractures as the body ages. Common areas of weakness are the hips, spine and wrists.
To get enough calcium, teens should drink a cup of low-fat milk with every meal, with an additional cup later in the evening. Yogurt and cheese are also exceptional calcium sources. The University of Arizona also recommends that teen boys become more creative when it comes to calcium; adding beans and tofu to their diets to increase their calcium intake. Teens who love veggies will also benefit from the calcium content in broccoli and green, leafy vegetables, including spinach.
- National Institutes of Health: Kids and Their Bones: A Guide for Parents
- Alabama Cooperative Extension: Calcium Crisis Affects American Youth
- University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio: Lesson One: Adolescent Nutrition
- The University of Arizona: Teens & Bone Health
- Stanislaus County Health Services Agency: Milk-A Myriad of Choices
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images