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Them Bones

Bones form your body's framework and, along with your joints and muscles, help you move. Your skeleton is made up of 206 separate bones. Although bones are hard, your body is constantly losing bone and making new bone.

What you eat and how much you move your body greatly affect whether your body builds strong bones.

Three important nutrients for strong bones are calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus. About 99 percent of the calcium in your body is deposited in your bones, sort of like a bank account. The other one percent circulates around in your blood to help with important jobs like making your heart beat right and your blood clot when you get a cut.

If you don't get enough calcium from what you eat and drink, your body will withdraw calcium from your bone bank to use in your blood– not a good thing for building strong bones!  If you don't get enough calcium, you could get a condition when you get older called "osteoporosis," which means your bones are thin and weak. That's why it's important to get enough calcium all your life—starting right now!

Lots of foods and drinks are chock-full of calcium like milk, yogurt, cheese (choose fat-free and low-fat types most often) and calcium-fortified orange juice. But did you know that pinto beans, almonds, oranges and even broccoli have calcium, too?

Vitamin D is like a traffic cop that directs your body to absorb the calcium you eat and deposit it in your bones. D is called the "sunshine vitamin" because your body can make its own vitamin D when the sun shines on your skin for a few minutes each day.

You also can get your D by drinking vitamin D-fortified milk and eating egg yolks (the yellow part) or fish like salmon or sardines.

Phosphorus, like calcium, forms the structure of bones and teeth.  Most protein foods like milk, meats, poultry and beans have plenty of phosphorus. If you eat these foods regularly, you're probably meeting your phosphorus needs.

When you do any activity like running, jumping rope or push-ups (called "weight-bearing" exercise), your bones respond by storing more calcium so they'll be even stronger next time.

Try these recipes that are good for your bones:
Easy Chick-n-Cheesy Quesadilla
Groovy Grape Ape Smoothie
Nuked Nachos

Reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Panel, 2006