Calcium is a mineral that is essential for children’s health. It is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and is most known for being needed for normal bones and teeth in children, where it forms to majority of the bone and tooth matrix. However, its requirement for health goes far beyond just bones and teeth. Calcium is also needed for normal blood clotting, energy yielding metabolism, muscle function, neurotransmission (the communication between nerves) and for the function of digestive enzymes. When we look at the list of functions that calcium has in the body, it relates to nearly every body system. Calcium works with vitamin D. Children need vitamin D in order to absorb and utilise calcium within the body.
Good sources of calcium are:
It can be hard to get enough calcium rich foods into a child each day, especially when there are allergies and intolerance preventing the consumption of dairy products, and typical child fussiness with foods. Some foods are fortified with calcium, however these are usually overly processed foods which shouldn’t make up a significant portion of your child’s diet.
The UK recommended daily kid’s calcium intake is as follows:*
Age 1-3 years – 350mg
Age 4-6 years – 450mg
Age 7 – 10 – 550mg
Age 11-18 (boys) – 1000mg
Age 11-18 (girls) 800mg
The recommended amount of calcium for kids can be hard to obtain, particularly if a child is fussy or has a poor appetite. Any calcium consumed must be paired with enough vitamin D for your child’s body to effectively process it.
Should you be concerned about a child’s calcium intake through food, you may want to consider a children’s calcium supplement. Calcium supplementation can play a very important role in children’s health and can help top up a healthy diet. A sign of a good calcium supplement is one that contains vitamin D as well. Vitamin D is created in the skin in response to direct sunlight, and is often found to be in inadequate levels in the UK population.
If you are looking for calcium for kids a good option is:
*Nutrition & Dietetics Great Western Hospital April 2009