Calcium is an essential nutrient for kids. It helps build strong bones and teeth, and is also involved in muscle, nerve, and heart function. But what if your child isn’t into dairy or your teenager has decided to go vegan? In this week’s Dietitian Tips we’ll discuss the various ways that you can ensure your child (or you) receives the daily recommended amount of calcium.
image from: https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=1448&language=English&hub=nutrition#
Let’s start by looking at what the daily recommended intake of calcium is for kids and teens.
For children aged:
1-3 – 700 mg (per day)
4-8 – 1,000 mg (per day)
9-18 – 1,300 mg (per day)
Getting enough calcium can be easy to do through a balanced diet.
Typical Sources of Calcium
For those who eat animal products, like fish and dairy, will be some of your richest foods sources of calcium. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are some of the richest sources of calcium. Other good sources include canned sardines, salmon, and tofu.
Sources of Calcium for Vegans
For vegetarians or vegans, there are plenty of calcium-rich foods that can be included in the diet. Dark leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, and turnip greens are great sources of plant-based calcium. Other vegan sources of calcium include almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and fortified plant-based milks. Look for calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, breakfast cereal, and plant-based milk that turn these foods into calcium super stars!
Vitamins to help with calcium absorption
Regardless of which calcium foods you choose to eat, calcium is always absorbed best with vitamin D. Vitamin D isn’t naturally present in many foods but is sometimes added to fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals. The body also produces vitamin D when directly exposed to sunlight, so try to get outside for a few minutes each day. Living in Canada; however, we don’t tend to get enough sun year-round for our bodies to produce enough vitamins D, so it’s a good idea for all of us to supplement.
It’s important for kids to get enough calcium in their diet. With a healthy diet, it’s easy to get the recommended daily intake of calcium from dairy products, canned fish, and fortified foods. For vegans, there are plenty of calcium-rich plant-based foods that can be included in the diet. Lastly, don’t forget about Vitamin D, as it helps the body absorb calcium.