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Bone & Joint

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As adolescence is a period of rapid skeletal growth during which nearly half of the adult skeletal mass is accrued, this period also serves as a window of opportunity for influencing peak bone mass.

The bones of teens are smaller than those of adults and contain “growing zones” called growth plates. These plates consist of multiplying cartilage cells that grow in length, and then change into hard, mineralized bone. This happens in girls around ages 13–15 and in boys around ages 15–17.

FAST FACTS

Fast Fact

The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, one can’t form enough of the hormone calcitriol (known as the “active vitamin D”). This in turn leads to insufficient calcium absorption from the diet.

Fast Fact

Teen guys and girls need 1,300 mg (milligrams) of calcium each day. The body’s need for calcium is at its highest point between the ages of 9 years and 18 years old. Not getting enough calcium during this can affect bone strength later in life.

Fast Fact

Although maximum height may be reached in the mid to late teens, peak bone mass (when bones have reached their maximum strength and density) is nearly reached by the age of 20.

Fast Fact

In children, the most rapid periods of bone growth occur from birth to two years and around puberty, when sexual maturation takes place. This is roughly from age 11 to 14 in girls and 13 to 17 in boys. During puberty, the speed of bone build-up in the spine and hip increases by approximately five times.

Reading Material

Humans are what we call vertebrates. This means that we are animals with a vertebral column or backbone which is the centre of our internal ‘frame’ or skeleton. The skeletal system, however, is more than just bones. It consists of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons and all in all accounts for 20% of your body weight! The components of the skeletal system are made up of living tissue, meaning they need blood flow to provide them with oxygen and nutrients and take away waste products. It also means that they have the ability to change shape or remodel in response to mechanical stress (1). There are a number of factors that contribute to the health of these components, and at Bioteen we have identified a critical window of opportunity to prevent joint and bone disorders by encouraging physical activity and the right diet for teen’s.

 

What are bones?

Not only are bones there to support you and help you move, they also protect all the soft and squishy but very important bits inside of you (like your brain, spinal cord and heart) and also provide us with minerals when we are in need (2). In short, they are important.

 

Bones are very active organs which are constantly undergoing remodelling. Think of bone as a bank account where you ‘deposit’ and ‘withdraw’ bone tissue (deposits happen through the action of osteoclasts and withdrawals happen through the action of osteoblasts). During childhood and the teenage years, new bone should be added to the skeleton faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones usually become larger, heavier, and denser (3). About 40%-60% of adult bone mass is accrued during the teenage years, and interestingly 25% of a teen’s peak bone mass is accumulated during the 2-year period around peak height velocity (which is about 12.5 years for girls and 14 years for boys). By the time a teen is 18 years old, about 90% of their peak bone mass has been accrued (4). This makes the early teen years a critical time in bone development. After the age of about 20 years old, bone resorption may exceed formation leading to bone loss. When bone loss is excessive, some people develop a disorder known as osteoporosis which appears to happen more frequently in people who were not able to reach their maximum peak bone mass during their bone-building years (aka the teenage years) (3,5). In many instances bone loss can be counteracted by getting the right nutrients (like protein, calcium, and vitamin D) and implementing other lifestyle changes (like exercise and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use). Unfortunately, teens are not meeting their nutrient goals for many of these bone health nutrients (5) and that’s where Bioteen comes in.

 

What are joints?

Joints, on the other hand, are the mechanical ‘parts’ where two or more bones are joined together. Many joints (especially moveable ones like knees) have a layer of cartilage at the end of the bone where they come together. When the cartilage is healthy, the bones are allowed to glide over one another and prevent them from rubbing against one another (which can cause damage). Occasionally the joints are not able to function correctly, in these cases a person may get arthritis which is a term that refers to any type of disorder that affects the joints. Although it happens more frequently in older adults, it can happen in younger people as well. There are some precautions to take to reduce the risk for arthritis which involves a change in diet and exercise. One of the most important things you can do to keep joints healthy, is to exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet that has enough protein in it. When the muscles around the joints are strong, it helps to keep the pressure off the joints meaning that there is less wear and tear and subsequently less damage in the long run (6).

 

Why should we care about bone and joint health?

Providing teens with the right building blocks for physical health can go a long way. This is especially true of active teens who may experience more stressors on their bones and joints than their less active counterparts, especially those that play a competitive sport. While some exercise is great for the bones and joints, too much can start to cause trouble. While good nutrition may not be able to prevent injuries related to overuse or improper training, it definitely can play a role in how fast an active teen recovers while poor nutrition can lead to conditions that increase the risk of injury.

 

In general, sports injuries are divided into two broad categories, acute and chronic. Acute injuries happen suddenly, like when your teen falls or twists a joint while chronic (or long term) injuries usually result from overuse of one area of the body and develop gradually over time (like shin splints or tendonitis).

 

Symptoms of a chronic injury due to overuse include (7):

  • Pain when you play or exercise
  • Swelling and a dull ache when you rest

 

In time, overuse injuries can degrade tissues and joints and set the stage for an acute injury. Basically, not sorting out the problem causes new problems, and a vicious cycle ensures.

 

Symptoms of an acute injury include (7):

  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Extreme swelling or bruising
  • Not being able to place weight on a leg, knee, ankle, or foot
  • Not being able to move a joint normally
  • Extreme weakness of an injured limb
  • A bone or joint that is visibly out of place

 

At the end of the day, avoiding injury is key. Besides preventing overuse injuries by moderating activity and incorporating appropriate rest days, focusing on proper nutrition is vital for recovery and injury prevention.

 

The bottom line

The teen years are seen as a critical window of opportunity for bone and joint health. If we can ensure that teens have access to the right types and amounts of nutrients during this time, there is potential for improved long term health outcomes. Most teens don’t think about long term health outcomes (it’s just not the way their brains are wired), so a handy supplement that contains the right amount of ingredients in an easy to consume form may be a good option for those days where a complete, balanced meal is just note possible. At Bioteen we are all for a food first approach, but also know that it’s not always a practical solution. Supplements like Bioteen’s are great to supplement an already healthy lifestyle, helping teens get to where they need to be!

 

References

  1. Introduction to the skeletal system [Internet]. Introduction to the Skeletal System | SEER Training. [cited 2022Nov22]. Available from: https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/skeletal/
  2. Bone Health for Life: Health Information Basics for you and your family [Internet]. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; [cited 2022Nov22]. Available from: https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/bone-health-life-health-information-basics-you-and-your-family
  3. What is bone? [Internet]. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; [cited 2022Nov22]. Available from: https://bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/what-is-bone
  4. Golden NH, Abrams SA; Committee on Nutrition. Optimizing bone health in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2014 Oct;134(4):e1229-43.
  5. Carey DE, Golden NH. Bone Health in Adolescence. Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2015 Aug;26(2):291-325.
  6. Healthy joints matter [Internet]. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2020 [cited 2022Nov22]. Available from: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/kids/healthy-joints#tab-id-2
  7. Niams health information on sports injuries [Internet]. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2022 [cited 2022Nov22]. Available from: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/sports-injuries

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