Teens who make fruits and vegetables a part of their daily diet may build stronger bones, especially in the spine and neck, say researchers from Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Researchers studied the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone mass in a variety of age groups, including 16- to 18-year-old teens, young women, and older men and women. The teens underwent tests to measure bone content and density in several areas of the body and recorded what they ate and drank during a 7-day period. The teens also noted how many hours per week they spent exercising and whether they smoked or used dietary supplements.
The results? Even when other bone health factors such as physical activity and calcium intake were considered, teen boys and girls who had high intakes of fruit tended to have heavier and stronger bones throughout the body, but especially in the spine. In boys, eating lots of fruit and consuming higher amounts of vitamin C (a vitamin frequently found in fruits and vegetables) was linked to having heavier and stronger neck bones.
The study results also showed that teens who ate the most fruit tended to have significantly higher intakes of the vitamins and minerals potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C, compared with teens who ate the least fruit. And although fruit and vegetable intake wasn't linked to better bone health in young women or older men, older women who ate lots of fruit tended to have heavier and stronger spinal bones, too.
What This Means to You. Fruits and vegetables are a crucial part of every teen's diet, and the results of this study suggest that these foods may improve bone mineral content and density during adolescence, a critical time for building bone mass. To take advantage of this and many other potential health benefits, your child or teen should be eating three to five vegetable servings and two to four fruit servings daily.
Source: Celia J. Prynne; Gita D. Mishra; Maria A. O'Connell; Graciela Muniz; M. Ann Laskey; Liya Yan; Ann Prentice; Fiona Ginty; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2006.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: June 2006