Importance of Calcium in a Child's Diet

To build strong bones and healthy teeth, calcium intake is absolutely essential for your child. As bone mass increases sevenfold from birth through to puberty, consuming the appropriate amount of calcium is integral in their earliest developmental years. Help your little one to get the best start on their bone density and strength by providing calcium rich food for toddlers into their diet every day.

What is calcium?

Integral to building strong bones, teeth and muscles, calcium is a mineral that you and your toddler need in your diet every day. When a child is in their prime bone-building years, plenty of calcium will help to form the basis for optimal development. Calcium is a naturally occurring vitamin predominantly found in dairy-based foods and also in bony fish, legumes, nuts and dark green vegetables. Once ingested, 99% of calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, where its purpose is supporting their hardness and structure. When your toddler has solid teeth and bones, it can help combat fractures, breaks or tooth decay in the future.

Benefits of a calcium rich diet for babies and toddlers

Providing a balanced diet packed full of calcium-rich foods facilitates a great foundation for their growth and development. Creating strong bones as a child will often mean strong bones as an adult and less chance of developing debilitating osteoporosis. The main benefits of a calcium rich diet for kids include:

  • Strong bones and muscles
  • Healthy teeth
  • Optimal nervous system function
  • Healthy heart

Signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency in children

For babies under 6 months old, 200mgs is the recommended daily intake of calcium, and for children aged 1 -3 years old it’s 500mgs. A great point to remember is that the absorption of calcium can be hindered by a deficiency in vitamin D, which is just another reason to make sure your child is getting a balanced diet. 

Here are some signs and symptoms that your child might be suffering with a calcium deficiency:

  • Weak muscles
  • Twitching or jitters
  • Not feeding well
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure

Calcium rich foods for toddlers

  • Oranges
  • Figs
  • Prunes
  • Yoghurt
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Pulses
  • Breast milk
  • Salmon and sardines
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dark green vegetables eg. broccoli, spinach, kales, peas
  • Calcium-fortified cereals and breads
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice
  • Calcium-fortified rice milk, soy milk or tofu

Provide your kids with a calcium rich diet

In conclusion, calcium is an incredibly important nutrient to provide your child with, especially in their early years. Development of strong bones, teeth and maintenance of optimal nervous system functions depend heavily on getting enough calcium. There are plenty of calcium rich foods for kids that you can easily introduce into their daily diet. If you suspect your toddler is deficient in calcium or is having trouble absorbing this important nutrient, please contact your pediatrician or healthcare specialist for more information.

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