Why Your Child Needs Calcium

Why kids need calcium

How does calcium help growing children?

During childhood and into their teenage years, kids need enough calcium to support their growing bones and teeth. Calcium is one of the body’s most important minerals and also has other essential roles to play, including supporting a healthy nervous system and muscle function.  Most of the calcium in the body is found in our bones (around 99%) and this needs to be "topped up" daily from our diet.  When kids do not take in enough calcium, they are more susceptible to developing weak bones later on in life. Fortunately, calcium supplements for children are readily available and may help to minimise this risk, in addition to a calcium enriched diet.

How much calcium should kids get each day?

Children's bodies are constantly growing and developing and they need a lot of calcium to support the growth of healthy, strong bones and teeth.  However, the Australian Nutrition Survey found that around 70% of children do not receive the recommended amount of calcium. As parents, we may be concerned about whether our child falls into this category, but are unsure exactly how much calcium they should be getting.The recommended daily intake of calcium varies according to your child's age:

Age Recommended daily intake of Calcium1
1‐3 years: 500mg
4‐8 years: 700mg
9‐13 years: 1000mg ‐ 1300mg
14‐18 years: 1300mg

What foods are high in calcium?

Dairy products contain high amounts of easily absorbed calcium and are therefore the best choice for ensuring your kids get enough from their diet. Examples include milk, yoghurt and cheese. Other foods that contain calcium in smaller amounts include sardines and salmon with bones, dried figs and apricots, chick peas, nuts, parsley, prawns2  and vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, turnip greens and rhubarb. Certain legumes also provide calcium, including pinto beans, red beans, white beans and soybean products, such as tofu.  Remember that generally, vegetables provide a lot less calcium than dairy products. Typically, we would need to eat between two and ten servings to equal the calcium provided by dairy foods.3

My child is allergic to dairy products, how can I ensure they get the recommended intake every day?

Whilst dairy products are great sources of calcium, an allergy to cow’s milk is one of the most common allergies in kids.4 If your child has a cow's milk allergy, you may be understandably concerned about their calcium intake. Fortunately these days, there are many calcium rich foods available that can be used in place of dairy. Milk substitutes include calcium fortified soy milk, almond milk, rice or oat milk and soy yoghurt. A naturopath or nutritionist can also help you design a practical meal plan to ensure your little ones receive adequate calcium from their food. Extra calcium can also be obtained from a calcium supplement designed specifically for kids.

Are calcium supplements suitable for children to have?

Ideally, kids should obtain adequate calcium from their food, however, in cases where this is just not possible, a calcium supplement specially formulated for kids may be beneficial.  A calcium containing supplement will help to top up your child's calcium intake, helping them to develop strong, healthy bones and teeth that will lay the foundation for optimal health in years to come.