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Milk is cream of the crop for bones, says Healthy Harold

August 24, 2021 6:35PM Kids News

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Millie, 9, and Teddy, 7, enjoy a glass of milk to help keep their bones healthy. Picture: Tim Carrafa media_cameraMillie, 9, and Teddy, 7, enjoy a glass of milk to help keep their bones healthy. Picture: Tim Carrafa

ask healthy harold

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It’s Healthy Bones Action Week and Healthy Harold is encouraging kids to think about their bones.

Many people don’t think about their bones until one breaks or they get older, but Healthy Harold says you are never too young to focus on building healthy bones for life.

There are three simple ways to improve and maintain bone health: consume milk, cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products to increase your calcium intake; engage in weight-bearing exercises to strengthen bones; and get enough vitamin D by spending some safe time in the sun.

Healthy Harold loves milk for Healthy Bones Action Week. For Kids News media_cameraHealthy Harold also loves milk for Healthy Bones Action Week.

Healthy Harold answers some questions about bone health below.

Is dairy good for me?
Dairy foods contain heaps of nutrients that help you to grow and have lots of energy. These nutrients do awesome things like help you stay well and even help your eyes, skin and muscles stay strong and healthy.

Most people know that dairy foods are packed with calcium and calcium builds strong bones and teeth.

Dairy products - yoghurt, milk and cheese food varieties. media_cameraMilk, cheese and yoghurt are great sources of calcium.

Milk, cheese and yoghurt are great sources of calcium. We also get calcium from leafy green vegetables, fish with edible bones (like salmon and sardines – yum!) and other foods like soy products, cereals and breads that have had added calcium included when they are made.

How can I build strong bones?
Did you know that young bodies absorb more calcium than older people? That’s why it’s really important for young people to eat well and stay active to have strong bones.

How can you do this?

  • Eat lots of calcium in your foods, like milk, cheese and yoghurt
  • Weight bearing exercises – sounds weird, but all this means is things like hopping, jumping, skipping and running
  • Getting vitamin D from the sun – a little bit of sun is great for us when we are out and about, with a hat and some sunscreen of course
Healthy Bones Week media_cameraTeddy, 7, wants to grow big and strong. Picture: Tim Carrafa

Why is calcium important for bones?
Calcium helps us build healthy bones and keep them strong. I love science and I learned that calcium combines with other minerals, like phosphorus, to form hard crystals that give bones their strength. How awesome is that?

Our bodies don’t make calcium themselves, we need to take it in through our food. And here is something else I learned too – if we don’t eat enough calcium our body takes calcium out of our bones! Oh no! This can make our bones brittle and weak and can lead to a condition known as “osteoporosis”.

So calcium is important all through our lives: babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults … we all need calcium!

How much dairy should I have per day?
Most children need between 1.5 and 3.5 serves of dairy foods every day to help them get calcium.

One serve of dairy is equivalent to:

  • 1 cup of milk (250ml) or
  • ¾ cup of Yoghurt (200g) or
  • 2 slices of cheese (40g)

Some people cannot digest some types of dairy foods, but the good news is that they can get their calcium from other foods. A doctor or a dietitian can help with advice.

Do brown cows produce chocolate milk?
This is a fun question! I am trying to imagine a chocolate milk making cow right now … moo!

There are lots of different breeds of dairy cow but they all produce white milk. Some produce milk that is creamier than other breeds and some produce more milk than others.

Did you know there are seven different breeds of dairy cows in Australia? They are Holstein, Jersey, Aussie Red, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Illawarra and Ayrshire. I like the Holsteins the best – they are the ones with the white body and the big black spots. They remind me of my special spots!

media_cameraA herd of Holstein cows, which are Healthy Harold’s favourite breed.

Why do cows moo?
Mooing is one of the ways cows communicate. Mooing is how they “talk” with each other and they express their emotions. They also grunt and wag their tails to communicate.

They moo to find their special cows! They also moo to say they are hungry, they moo to let the rest of the herd know if there is any danger around, and sometimes they just moo because they are happy!

Mothers and calves moo to each other. In fact, they know each other’s sounds and recognise each other.

Cows really are beautiful animals.

How many bones do we have?
Babies are born with about 300 bones. By the time we are adults we have 206 bones.

Think about it for a moment – what happens to the extra bones?

I have had kids in our Life Education lessons tell me that they think the extra bones must come out when we go to the toilet (hahahaha). I’ve also been told that the extra bones must just “drop off people” (I think it’s funny to imagine all of these dropped bones in the playground and everyone trying not to trip over them). I’ve also been told they just “disappear”.

So, what does happen to them? Can you guess?

The real answer is they join together as we grow!

What is the biggest bone in your body?
The biggest bone in your body is your thigh bone and connects your hip to your knee. The proper name for this bone is the femur.

Life Education healthy bones illustration 1. For Kids News media_cameraSome of the important bones in the body.

What happens if we don’t have bones?
Well, we’d be very, very floppy! Bones give our bodies shape. Without bones our bodies would look like jellyfish!

Why do we have bones?
Bones are like the frame that our whole body is built around. Our skeleton gives our body structure and also protects our organs inside.

Our rib cage helps to protect our heart and lungs. Our skull protects our brain.

Strong bones help us to lead a long and healthy life, letting us be active, independent and keep doing all the things we love.

Did you know?

  • The smallest bone in your body is in your ear. It is known as the “stapes” and is less than half a centimetre in size!
  • If you break a bone, your body begins to fix it immediately.
  • X-ray machines can be used to see your bone. These incredible machines see through your body and can let your doctor know if there’s anything wrong with a bone.
  • Blood is made in our bones! Our bones have something inside them called marrow – it kind of looks like jelly! Marrow helps our bodies make blood.

How calcium gets to the bones


If you have a question for Healthy Harold, you can ask it by clicking HERE. Please don’t include names and personal information about yourself or others. It’s important we respect everyone’s privacy.

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