Calcium is a mineral that is very important for:
Most of the stored calcium for bone strength is laid down by age 17. Helping your children get into the habit of eating calcium-rich foods decreases their risk for weak bones later in life.
Many food products list the amount of calcium per serving on the box. Food labels list calcium as a % of the Daily Value (DV) based on 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Look for foods that provide 10% or more of the daily value for calcium.
The amount of calcium your child needs depends on age:
Group Calcium/Day -------------------------------------- Children 1 to 3 500 mg Children 4 to 8 800 mg Children 9 to 18 1100 mg -------------------------------------- * mg = milligrams
Milk products are one of the best sources of calcium. Calcium is also in many other foods, but if milk products are not a part of your child’s diet, it may be hard to get enough calcium from the foods your child eats. The calcium in vegetables, beans, and soy, is not absorbed as well as the calcium in milk products. Here are examples of how much milk your child should have at different ages:
1 to 3 years old
4 to 8 years old
9 to 18 years old
The calcium in 1 cup of milk is the same amount of calcium as 1 cup of yogurt, 1 and 1/2 ounces of cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese.
Children from 1 through 18 years of age should get 600 IU of vitamin D per day. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.
Here are some things that can make it harder for your child’s body to get enough calcium:
These things can cause the body to lose calcium:
If your child gets enough calcium in his diet, he does not need to take calcium supplements. Your child is more likely to need a supplement if he:
If your child takes calcium supplements and eats a lot of calcium-fortified foods, he may get too much. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian if your child should take a calcium supplement, and which kind to should take.
There are many kinds of calcium supplements. The most common are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate.
Your child’s body absorbs calcium best if he takes no more than 500 mg at a time, and takes it two or more times per day as recommended by your healthcare provider. Look for calcium supplements that have the USP or Consumer Lab symbol on the label. Products with these labels have been tested to make sure they are absorbed by the body.
Eat more calcium-rich foods. Here are some ideas for adding calcium to your family's diet.
Some children cannot digest most milk products because their bodies lack the enzyme needed to break down milk sugar. This problem is called lactose intolerance. If your child has this problem, you can buy products such as Lactaid or Dairy Ease. These products contain lactase, which can help your child digest milk products. Talk with your healthcare provider about this.
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