Calcium is one of the most important nutrient and dietary requirement for children, which helps in building strong bones. Calcium is very important for the all-round development of children. Calcium is responsible for strong, healthy bones and teeth. The body uses calcium for a number of functions and so it needs to be provided appropriately in foods. As the body regularly uses calcium for different functions, it also needs the deposits of calcium to overcome any shortfall. Today’s post is crucial as we talk about the Importance of Calcium for Children.
It is important to know that the bone mass in the body is developed till the early twenties, for e.g. for boys it is around the age of 20 while for girls it is around the age of 18. In other words, the bones are completely developed and have reached their maximum strength and density. Therefore it is very important to have a good calcium-rich diet in the growing years of children. Calcium-rich foods are needed for bone development.
If more calcium is consumed then it is stored in the body and the body keeps using it regularly. The body regulates the calcium levels by maintaining the right balance in the concentration of calcium in the blood and in the tissues. Further, it is important to know that too much of calcium or too little calcium will make certain organs fail and can prove to be dangerous.
Importance of Calcium for Children
Children are always on the move and active and thus they need calcium in their daily diet. When too much of calcium is borrowed from the bank in the body and the same is not replenished, then the bones start getting weak and brittle. Children who have a good calcium-rich diet have strong bones that protect them from any bone loss in their adult life. A well-balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamins and minerals will help your child lead a healthy life.
The benefits of strong bones in children are listed below :
- Strong bones help in protecting the children’s soft internal organs like the brain, lungs etc.
- Strong bones have marrow, where the blood cells are produced.
- Strong bones are needed to support the body structure and thus it helps them in playing sports or while doing any physical activities like running, jumping, climbing etc.
- Strong bones reduce the future risk of osteoporosis.
How much calcium is needed for your children?
Calcium is needed for everyone, but children need it more in their growing up years.
The recommended daily intake of calcium is listed below :
- 1-3 years – 500mg a day.
- 4-8 years – 700mg a day.
- 9-11 years – 1000mg a day.
- 12-18 years – 1300mg a day.
Some of the ways of getting calcium included in a children’s diet are listed below i.e. foods high in Calcium :
- 1 cup of milk = 300 mg.
- 45 gm cheese (cheddar) = 310 mg.
- 75 gm of sardines = 325 mg.
- 200 gm yogurt = 300 mg.
- ½ cup tofu = 140 mg.
- 1 cup raw kale = 100 mg.
- 15 almonds = 40 mg.
Some of the other calcium-rich foods that can be easily included in your diet are soy, broccoli, leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek leaves, red beans, chickpeas, oranges, figs, prunes, sesame seeds etc.
Some other simple ways to get calcium in your children’s diet are listed below :
- Add cheese to homemade sandwiches.
- Make fresh fruit smoothies with milk and yoghurt.
- Always add boiled broccoli or spinach in the plate. You can make spinach soup or spinach paranthas.
- Give them snacks of almonds, brazil nuts and other nuts, which are rich in calcium.
- Include fish like salmon, sardines etc., which are rich in calcium.
- Sweet potato chips are rich in calcium.
- Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on sandwiches, soups and salads.
- Chickpea hummus is good with fresh salads.
- Soups like green pea soup, spinach soup etc., are rich in calcium. You can add beans to your soup to make it richer in calcium.
Further, it is important to know that alongwith calcium, you need Vitamin D, Magnesium and Vitamin K2 for overall bone development.
It is important to note that we need Vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without vitamin D our body will not be able to absorb calcium. Sunlight is an important source of Vitamin D. Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon, eggs, cheese etc., have vitamin D in it.
Magnesium helps in counterbalancing the high levels of calcium that are accumulated in the body.
Vitamin K2 helps in activating the bone protein hormone called osteocalcin, which is responsible for binding calcium to the bone and helps in the bone building process. Foods like cabbage, sprouts, green leafy vegetables, spring onions, prunes etc., are high in Vitamin K2.
The best way to get calcium is through a calcium-rich diet, as it is easy to absorb the same in the body. But if you feel that your child is not getting adequate calcium then you can take the advice of your pediatrician for calcium supplements.
It is important to have a calcium-rich diet for the entire family. Children should be encouraged to eat foods that will make their body strong and healthy.
Hope you enjoyed this article Importance of Calcium for Children. For more similar articles please visit our Health and Fitness section on the site.
Please read our earlier article Should Kids Drink Milk?
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