A child needs dozens of vitamins and minerals essential for his growth. A lack in a vitamin or a mineral will have a significant impact when the child reaches adulthood; its detrimental effects will be felt as he grows older. Such a mineral with an adverse effect when deficient is calcium.
Calcium is a must-have in anyone's diet, more so a child's diet. Calcium is a key ingredient for healthy, strong bones; sadly, the kids today are not getting the necessary milligrams of calcium they need daily. Children today miss out on calcium by choosing to drink sodas instead of milk. Milk, one of the best sources of calcium, takes a back seat especially when the child reaches adolescence. When the adolescent starts to drink alcohol, caffeinated beverages, or takes up smoking, he gets less calcium because these substances interfere with calcium absorption. At every age, childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, calcium is one nutrient one cannot afford to skip. This holds truer for children, it is they who need calcium more than anyone, as the body uses the mineral to build strong bones, a process that is only completed by the end of the adolescent years.
Childhood is a crucial time for the development of healthy bones, and calcium provides the necessary building blocks to make sure their bones become dense and strong during those years when bones grow the quickest. Importance of Calcium in the Body: Calcium, aside from bone building and giving strength to the bones and teeth, also plays an important role in muscle contraction. It is also essential in blood clotting, transmission through the nerves and other nerve functions, and release of hormones. Because calcium is so vital, when blood calcium levels are low, the necessary mineral is taken from the bones to make sure that there is normal cell function. It is always best to start early, and when children get enough physical activity and calcium during their childhood all the way to adolescence, they can start their adulthood with the strongest bones possible.
Getting enough calcium early on also reduces the risk of fracture and osteoporosis later in life. Calcium is especially needed by girls ? they are more at risk with calcium deficiency because of pregnancy.
Recommended Calcium Intake for Children (According to the National Academy of Science):
Toddlers ages 1 to 3 years: 500 milligrams of calcium daily (about 2 glasses of milk)
Kids ages 4 to 8 years: 800 milligrams (about 3 glasses of milk)
Older children ages 9 to 18 years: 1,300 milligrams (about 4 glasses of milk). Infants get enough of their calcium from breast milk or fortified formula. Other than that, it is best to follow the recommended calcium intake for children to ensure that the blood calcium levels are normal.
Calcium for Kids:
As mentioned above, though, the children presently are not getting their recommended amount of calcium owing basically to poor diet. First of all, diet is a family issue: if the parents have poor dietary habits, the children will follow what they see from their parents and 'inherit' it. It is not enough that you feed your children the proper nutrient-rich diet, you yourself should be seen adhering to that diet. Practice what you preach is still the best way to make the children follow you.
Most children can achieve that much-needed calcium by eating 3 servings of dairy products each day, 4 servings daily when they reach adolescence. Dairy foods are still the best source of calcium, like cheese, milk, and yogurt. Other foods with calcium, though in lesser amounts, are collard greens, salmon, tofu (and other soy products), tomatoes, and white beans.
We have breakfast cereals and orange juice for calcium-fortified foods, and as a last resort, there are calcium supplements to be had. Although a calcium-rich diet will provide the recommended calcium intake for a child, sometimes it is just not possible for a child. As such, calcium supplements must be discussed with your child's doctor. It is also important for your child to have enough of Vitamin D, as it is essential for calcium absorption. Vitamin D is found is egg yolks, fish, and other fortified dairy and nondairy products. It is also made by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.