Should you boost your child’s daily calcium intake?
07 June, 2023
It’s amazing how much children grow in the first few years of their lives! Their bodies need plenty of calcium-rich foods to build healthy teeth and bones. We’ll show you how to get more calcium into their growing bodies so they can grow up big and strong!
Our bodies need foods high in calcium to grow and maintain strong bones and teeth and to support other functions. Milk is a great source of calcium, so it’s easy to make sure babies get enough. Once children replace milk with solid food, it’s vital to ensure they’re eating calcium-rich foods, so their bodies get the calcium they need to grow and flourish.
What is calcium?
Calcium is a mineral that combines with other minerals and protein to form our bones. It’s what gives our bones structure and strength.
Why is calcium important?
Calcium is important for a child’s health, including:
- Bone health – 99 per cent of calcium in the human body is found in our bones. Calcium makes our bones strong, so they can carry our bodies around all day. Bones also act as a storeroom for calcium; if we don’t eat enough calcium, our body takes what it needs from our bones, which can weaken them, making them susceptible to breaks;
- Teeth health – calcium gives teeth strength;
- Muscle function – it regulates the way our muscles contract and relax;
- Nervous system – it helps send messages around the body, and;
- Blood clotting – calcium works with vitamin K and protein to create clotting.
Calcium recommended daily intake for children
Children need a daily intake of calcium to help their bodies grow strong. The amount of calcium they need increases as they grow. The Australian recommendations for daily calcium requirement by age for children are:
- 0-6 months old: 210mg
- 7-12 months old: 270mg
- 1-3 years old: 500mgs
- 4-8 years old: 700 mgs
- 9-13 years old – 1000-1300mg
- 14-18 years old – 1300mg.
Ways to boost your child’s calcium intake
- Incorporate calcium-rich foods into their diet
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are foods high in calcium and the easiest way to ensure children receive their recommended daily intake. A glass of milk, a slice of cheese and tub of yoghurt each day is adequate for a pre-school aged child. To keep things interesting, children may enjoy their milk served with cereal as a snack, or yoghurt mixed with fruit or as a salad dressing. Other good sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables, soy, fish and almonds. For more detailed information, Healthy Bones Australia has compiled a list of calcium-rich foods and their calcium content. Here are also recipes for kid-friendly foods.
- Make meals fun
Kids are more likely to eat foods that look and taste appealing, so consider cutting cheese into a mix of squares and triangles, or use cookie cutters to create fun shapes. Brightly coloured veggie sticks are fun to dip into plain yoghurt or cream cheese.
- Consider calcium supplements for kids
It can be challenging to make sure children are getting all the nutrients they need, particularly if they have a food allergy or intolerance. If you’re concerned your child’s daily calcium intake may be inadequate, talk to your family doctor who can provide advice about calcium supplements for children.
Edge Early Learning’s approach to nutrition
Here at Edge Early Learning, we understand the importance of good nutrition for growing bodies. We provide nutritious meals at all centres to ensure children are receiving a nutritionally-balanced diet to help to support their growth and development.