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Calcium is the most abundant mineral nutrient in the body. Ninety-nine percent of the body’s calcium is stored in the teeth and bones, which supports the structure and hardness. However, did you know that it is also necessary for vital bodily functions in muscles, the heart, and nerves? A deficiency can lead to serious health concerns, so it has a very important role in overall health.

Kids need strong bones and teeth

Our bones and teeth develop when we are very young, so it is important for children to get the proper amounts of calcium each day. Children who get enough calcium start their adult lives with the strongest bones possible. This means they will have reduced chance of bone loss when they are older. This necessary mineral also aides in the formation of new teeth and neutralizes harmful acids that can damage tooth enamel. This helps to prevent tartar build-up.

Calcium requirements for kids

The National Institute of Health recommends 200 mg daily for infants aged 0-6 months and 260 mg daily for ages 7 to 12 months. Requirements for other age groups are as follows:

1 to 3 years: 700 mg

4 to 8 years: 1,000 mg

9 to 18 years: 1,300 mg

19 to 50 years: 1,000 mg

Do not forget vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium from foods and milk. Kids do not eat a lot of foods high in vitamin D, so pediatricians often recommend supplements. Also, infants who have only breast milk may need a vitamin D supplement. Baby formula has vitamin D added. If your baby has a hard time transitioning from breast milk or formula to cow’s milk, keep trying as he or she gets older.

Recommended foods

Dairy such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and pudding are great sources. These foods should be a regular part of your family’s diet. Other foods that provide calcium for a healthy body include salmon, turnip greens, kale, broccoli, soybeans (edamame) and tofu. Make sure your children have at least one calcium-rich food on their plates or in a cup for every meal.