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Build Strong Bones with Dairy

By St. Louis District Dairy Council
Posted in Blog, and Recipes on May 4th, 2018

Parents want their children to grow up strong and healthy. Sometimes when they consider their children’s health, they may forget about bone health. But building strong bones in childhood is important to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures later in life. May is National Osteoporosis Month, an ideal time to consider assessing your child’s bone health. As a parent, you can make sure your kids are getting the three key ingredients for healthy bones: calcium, vitamin D, and exercise.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become fragile and break easily. When someone has osteoporosis, it means their bone mass is very low. Up to 90 percent of peak bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys, which makes childhood the best time to build strong, healthy bones.

Calcium is a mineral that helps build healthy bones. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium from the foods we eat. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is critical in building and maintaining strong, dense bones. When we don’t get the calcium our body needs, it is taken from our bones. This can cause bones to weaken and become easier to break. Milk is a perfect package of calcium and vitamin D, along with other essential nutrients.

It is important for people of all ages to meet calcium and vitamin D recommendations. One of the easiest (and tastiest!) ways to do this is to enjoy three servings of dairy every day. Milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of calcium; providing one-third of the recommended daily intake of calcium in each serving. Th role of dairy foods is more crucial than ever as most Americans are not getting enough calcium, putting them at increased risk for bone-crippling disease.  Getting more calcium in your diet can be as simple as drinking a glass of milk with meals, adding shredded cheese to salads, pasta and casseroles, or preparing soup and hot cereal with milk instead of water.

Along with diet, exercise is important for maintaining a lifetime of healthy bones. Any physical activity is great for kids, but weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, and even dancing, is best for bones. Swimming and biking, while great for general health, are not weight-bearing exercises that help build bone density. And although kids who play outside tend to have higher vitamin D levels, the most important thing  is for kids is to spend less time sitting and more time moving.  So remember to be a good example for your family and help them develop a lifelong love of physical activity.


Bean and Cheese Enchilada Casserole

Prep time 20 minutesServes 8


  • 1 can (15 ounce) pinto beans, rinsed and mashed, or nonfat refried beans
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans of red enchilada sauce
  • 12 corn tortillas (6-inch diameter)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided into 3 portions (2/3 cup each)
  • ¼ cup minced white onion


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 7 x 11-inch (or 2-quart size) baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Combine beans and yogurt in a small bowl.
  • Spread about ¼ cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange 4 tortillas in the dish, overlapping to cover the bottom. Top with half the bean/yogurt mixture, using the back of a spoon to thinly spread. Sprinkle ⅔ cup cheese and 2 tablespoons onion on top of the mixture. Top with one-third of the remaining enchilada sauce, 4 tortillas, the remaining bean mixture, ⅔ cup cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons onion. Spread half of the remaining enchilada sauce on top and cover with the remaining 4 tortillas. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and ⅔ cup cheese.
  • Bake until hot and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional minced onion, if desired.

Nutrition Facts:  280 calories, 12 g fat, 14 g protein, 27% calcium

Berry Banana Smoothie in a Bowl

Prep time 10 minutes; Serves 2


  • ¾ cup low fat milk
  • ½ cup low fat vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 whole frozen banana
  • Toppings: granola, fresh berries, banana slices, toasted coconut, almonds, chia seeds


  •  Combine milk, yogurt, spinach, berries and banana to the blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Pour into a bowl and top with desired toppings. Eat with a spoon and enjoy! 

Nutrition Facts: 180 calories, 3 g fat, 9 g protein, 20% calcium