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Calcium Requirements For Children For Healthy Growth
June 19th ,2024

Calcium Requirements For Children For Healthy Growth

In the role of being a parent, one has the desire to provide all possible assistance for their child's growth in good health and strength. A key element involved revolves around ensuring sufficient calcium intake by your child. Calcium stands as a mineral crucial for constructing and upholding robust bones. This is particularly crucial in childhood and adolescence when bones are growing quickly. Let's now explore why calcium is so vital for children, including how much they require during different stages of their growth.

How Calcium Supports Healthy Bone Growth in Children?

In the times of childhood and teenage, bones are always growing bigger and stronger. Children make approximately 40% of their total bone mass during puberty! The calcium that is put into bones in these years has a strong impact on maximum bone size and its strength later in adult life.

In the skeleton, calcium serves two key functions:

  1. It is a part of the structure to build up bones. Calcium assists in increasing bone size and shaping them properly as they grow, through a process known as bone remodeling.
  2. Calcium gives strength, hardness and good structure to the skeleton for body support. The more powerful and compact effect of calcium in your bones, the tougher they will be.

However, calcium has another important role. Besides constructing robust bones, it is crucial for the good operation of muscles, nerves, blood vessels and hormones. Calcium is kept in the bloodstream to make sure it acts as a messenger that aids communication between cells for core functions such as muscle tightening or contraction, nerve signals passing along with hormone release among others.

When calcium levels in blood fall too low, the body takes some calcium from bones to keep these important functions going. This is why it's crucial to have adequate intake of calcium through food – for the body's instant requirements as well as storing it in the skeleton later on.

Recommended Calcium Intake By Age

Now, how much calcium do children actually require daily? The amount rises as they grow up:

  • Infants 0-6 months: 200 mg/day
  • Infants 7-12 months: 260 mg/day
  • Children 1-3 years: 700 mg/day
  • Children 4-8 years: 1000 mg/day
  • Children and teens 9-18 years: 1300 mg/day

Just look at it, the needs increase a lot during tween and teen years because they have to provide for fast bone growth happening around puberty time. When we say 1300 mg of calcium each day, this is practically equal to approximately 3-4 servings per day from calcium-loaded foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified juices/milks along with leafy greens and canned fish including bones etc.

The Key Relationship Between Calcium and Vitamin D

When you think about calcium, always remember vitamin D. Vitamin D helps control how calcium is absorbed and used in the body. If there's not enough vitamin D, your child may not take in dietary calcium well which could cause them to lose it from their bones.

The current recommendations for vitamin D are:

  • 400 IU/day for infants
  • 600 IU/day for children and teens

There are not many foods that have high levels of vitamin D, so kids often need to consume fortified foods and/or take supplements for this nutrient. The skin can also make a certain amount of vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.

Tips for Maximizing Calcium Absorption

Even when your child eats a lot of food with calcium, it could be that their body isn't taking in and using all the calcium. Try these methods to boost absorption of calcium:

1. Pair calcium-rich foods with vitamin D

Like stated, for calcium to be absorbed well it's vital we have enough vitamin D. Pair food sources high in calcium with those rich in this vitamin such as fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy products.

2. Spread out calcium intake

Our bodies can only take in around 500 mg of calcium each time. Therefore, it is more beneficial to have several smaller portions of calcium-rich food during the day rather than having a large amount in one go.

3. Get active!

Doing physical activity on a regular basis, especially weight-bearing exercise, helps bones to grab and hold onto more calcium. Tell your children to run, jump or play to give their bones some energetic pushing up.

Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium

Do not worry about your child's dairy allergy or if they follow a vegan lifestyle - there are still plenty of good calcium sources that do not contain any dairy products:

  • Calcium-fortified plant-based milks like soy, almond, oat, or rice milk
  • Calcium-set tofu
  • Canned fish with bones like salmon or sardines
  • Beans and lentils
  • Leafy greens like collards, bok choy, kale
  • Calcium-fortified juices
  • Figs and oranges

If you're depending mostly on plants, it could be suitable for you to target the upper limit of suggested calcium since absorption is generally not as high as in dairy products.

The Bottom Line

Calcium is very crucial for your child's growth and development, not only now but also in relation to their future bone health. When it comes to monitoring how many milligrams they get every day, it may seem a bit overwhelming at times. However, if you mostly concentrate on including a good mix of food that contains calcium regularly into their meals and snacks, it should likely help them meet the required amount without much difficulty. If there are any worries about calcium intake or bone health with your child please consult the doctor.. They can assess diet and growth, and make personalized recommendations.


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