According to the National Institutes of Health, children younger than 6 months of age should consume 200 mg of calcium daily, while kids age 6-12 months should have 260 mg, kids age 1-3 years should have 700 mg, kids age 4-8 years should have 1,000 mg, and children age 9 and up should have 1,300 mg. For reference, a glass (8 ounces) of 1% milk contains 305 mg of calcium.
Calcium is essential for building strong bones and healthy teeth, but many children simply don’t get enough. How can you tell if your child is getting enough calcium, and if not, how can you up the ante? Here are a few tips.
Tally up Daily Intake
In order to become aware of your child’s calcium intake, you might have to track his/her diet and tally up daily nutrition. This should be relatively easy for young children since you are the one planning and delivering most meals. If you don’t have nutrition information readily available, as with natural foods like fruits and vegetables that don’t have nutrition labels, you should be able to find needed information online.
Add Natural Sources of Calcium
You might be surprised to learn that many foods contain some calcium. While dairy products are the best-known sources of calcium, it is also found in leafy greens, broccoli, fatty fish like sardines and salmon, almonds, and in high doses in tofu. However, the kids in your household will likely be more interested in sweeter sources like oranges and figs. The good news is, you can pack a punch with green monster smoothies – with milk, almond milk, or OJ paired with spinach and fruit, these smoothies can help to increase calcium intake, along with other essential vitamins and minerals.
Ask a Professional
There’s no denying that kids can be picky eaters, and it can be hard to ensure they’re getting enough calcium and other vitamins and minerals in their diet. If you’re worried that your child is lacking in vital nutrients, talk to your pediatrician and/or your child’s dentist about how to incorporate adequate calcium. These professionals should be able to speak to you about natural sources of calcium, as well as the potential for supplementing the diet with additional sources of specific vitamins and minerals.
It’s important that kids get enough calcium to sustain healthy bones and support normal growth and development. Professionals can help you to find ways to add calcium to your child’s diet and ensure strong, healthy bones and teeth.