No calcium? No way!
Ever wonder why calcium is so important in our diet? Look no further and unravel this mystery in this article today!
Just as vitamin C is necessary to boost immunity, calcium is one of the essential nutrients that act as a building block for strong and healthy bones and teeth.
Bones are the foundation for one’s growing body. Since young, living tissues in our body change constantly with bits of old bones removed and replaced by new bones.
Calcium come into the picture by functioning to remove the old bones and restore it faster. Without this repair and reinforcement, our bones will break off easily.
It has been proven that 90% of females by the age of 18 and males by the age of 20 have reached their optimal bone mass with maximum density and strength. Additionally, children and adolescents’ bodies build new bones faster than they break down which contribute to an increase of total bone mass. Hence, these show the importance for parents to place tremendous priority to the development of their children’s bone health during early development.
What else does calcium do in a human body?
Apart from maintaining bone and teeth health in a human body, calcium still serves multiple purposes including blood vessels and muscles contraction and relaxation, secretion of enzymes and hormones, and the nervous system.
An interesting fact about calcium is that it is one of the key minerals for optimal functioning of the whole body. Sufficient calcium intake can reduce osteoporosis, damaged gums, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Additionally, it also boosts up your metabolism to maintain healthy weight.
Our bone mass are influenced by several factors as such:
Males generally have higher bone mass than women but the development of bone mass is usually at a similar rate in young children. However, once young children reach their teenage years, boys tend to attain a sudden surge growth in their bone mass as compared to girls.
2. Physical activity
Physical activity such as regular exercise provides benefits in achieving greater peak bone mass especially in the skeleton areas that bear the most weight. Those areas include arms, legs, waist and hips.
To form the foundation of strong bones, a well-balanced diet containing sufficient amounts of minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, zinc and vitamin D is also important since young. As far as we are concerned, nothing builds our bones better than how calcium does because it is the mineral that makes bone hard and strong compared to other nutrients.
Although some of the factors such as gender and race are out of our control, nutrition and physical activity are still within our grasp. Of the two factors mentioned, nutrition with calcium is still the most crucial factor in building healthy bones.
How much calcium is enough?
Kids and teens can have healthy bones when they get enough calcium along with physical activity. For the best bone health, the requirement of calcium consumption is according to the Institute of Medicine (2011), as such:
In conjunction with getting enough calcium, 600 IU of vitamin D is needed daily. Vitamin D ensures optimized calcium absorption. Therefore, for calcium to benefit your body, depends on one's vitamin D requirement. Thus, even if one is taking adequate calcium, it may not confer the benefits if vitamin D is deficient.
Where do you find calcium to boost a kid’s diet?
We are aware that dairy foods provide the best source of calcium in a kid’s diet. It is always suggested to have natural food as the first approach instead of calcium supplements to meet nutrient requirements. Milk, yoghurt and cheese give a readily and convenient absorbable source of calcium which most kids can accept.
However, if your child is intolerant to milk or refuses to drink milk, soy milk that is fortified with a minimum 120 mg of calcium per 100 ml can be an alternative.
Furthermore, if your child is a fussy eater, they may not be willing to try new foods. Parents can offer them with smaller portions of the new food continually and eventually should result in them enjoying the food which is beneficial to them.
If you are worried that your kid may be lacking in calcium, there are ways to bump up their intake:
On top of that, if your kid still refuses to eat or drink all the foods or beverages containing calcium that they need daily, they may need to consider taking calcium supplements. Calcium supplements can be in a few types: liquid form, pill or capsule, gummy, chewable tablet, or dissolving tablet. Do consult the doctor, dietitian, nutritionist, and/or pharmacist before you feed your child with any supplements.
In short, good bone health is not difficult to achieve and maintain if parents establish a routine of a well-balanced diet containing calcium and vitamin D along with adequate and regular physical activity. Be a good role model in front of your kids to find sports and activities they enjoy for them to participate.
A side note here: a well-balanced nutrition with calcium does not need to have fancy supplements or pills. Alternatively, natural food is still the best approach for all nutrients intake for children.
Borboa, M. (March 2012). 5 benefits of calcium. Retrieved from https://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/822335/5-benefits-of-calcium/
'Bellamy's Organic'. (December 2018). Calcium and its importance in a child’s diet. Retrieved from https://www.bellamysorganic.com.au/blog/calcium-and-its-importance-in-a-childs-diet/
'Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital'. (n.d.). Calcium and your children. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Patients-Families/Health-Library/HealthDocNew/Calcium-and-Your-Child
'Institute of Medicine Committee'. (2011). Dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D. National Academies Press.
Warren, C. (June 2019). How much calcium you need per day — plus the top non-dairy sources. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/how-much-calcium-per-day-non-dairy-sources/11182530
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