Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

Research Article

Symposium on ‘Nutrition and health in children and adolescents’ Session 1: Nutrition in growth and development Nutrition and bone growth and development

A meeting of the Nutrition Society hosted by the Irish Section was held on 14–16 June 2006 at University College Cork, Cork, Republic of Ireland

Ann Prenticea1a2 c1, Inez Schoenmakersa1, M. Ann Laskeya1, Stephanie de Bonoa1, Fiona Gintya1 and Gail R. Goldberga1

a1 MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK

a2 MRC Keneba, PO Box 273, The Gambia

Abstract

The growth and development of the human skeleton requires an adequate supply of many different nutritional factors. Classical nutrient deficiencies are associated with stunting (e.g. energy, protein, Zn), rickets (e.g. vitamin D) and other bone abnormalities (e.g. Cu, Zn, vitamin C). In recent years there has been interest in the role nutrition may play in bone growth at intakes above those required to prevent classical deficiencies, particularly in relation to optimising peak bone mass and minimising osteoporosis risk. There is evidence to suggest that peak bone mass and later fracture risk are influenced by the pattern of growth in childhood and by nutritional exposures in utero, in infancy and during childhood and adolescence. Of the individual nutrients, particular attention has been paid to Ca, vitamin D, protein and P. There has also been interest in several food groups, particularly dairy products, fruit and vegetables and foods contributing to acid–base balance. However, it is not possible at the present time to define dietary reference values using bone health as a criterion, and the question of what type of diet constitutes the best support for optimal bone growth and development remains open. Prudent recommendations (Department of Health, 1998; World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization, 2003) are the same as those for adults, i.e. to consume a Ca intake close to the reference nutrient intake, optimise vitamin D status through adequate summer sunshine exposure (and diet supplementation where appropriate), be physically active, have a body weight in the healthy range, restrict salt intake and consume plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Dr Ann Prentice, fax +44 1223 437515, email ann.prentice@mrc-hnr.cam.ac.uk