Importance of Calcium for Any Stage of Life
This article was adapted from an article written by Dr. Murray Clarke on Safbaby.com.
Did you know that by the time a child reaches the age of 17, almost 90% of their adult bone mass will already have been established! Kid’s calcium intake is very important for their future bone health! Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and accounts for approximately 1.5% of total body weight. Bones and teeth contain 99% of the calcium in the body while the remaining 1% is distributed in other areas.
It is during childhood, often referred to as the “bone-forming years,” that a child’s body is most capable of absorbing calcium. But the fact is, most children and adolescents aren’t getting the calcium they need to build peak bone mass. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 86% of teenage girls and 64% of teenage boys are “calcium deficient.” Did you know that children who don’t get enough calcium are more likely to suffer from bone fractures and may develop osteoporosis as they age? They also risk having weaker teeth and tooth decay later in life.
On a day to day basis, if the body does not get the calcium requirements it needs from food or supplements, it will then tend to take it from someplace else, such as from the bones. That’s why there may be a thinning of the bones if the body experiences calcium deficiency.Working with a nutritionist to ensure sufficient calcium intake is important at any age!
Calcium and the Role of Magnesium and Vitamin D
To avoid losing calcium from their bones, a child’s body must properly absorb it. In order to do this, a combination of Vitamin D and Magnesium is needed. In fact, for optimum absorption and utilization, it is recommended that calcium should be combined with magnesium, vitamin D and zinc. These nutrients help support and establish the very foundation of your child’s structural growth and integrity.
Calcium and magnesium help balance each other in the body. Magnesium is essential for the development and maintenance of healthy bones. It actually works together with calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones strong and it is this combination of minerals that may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life. A recent study of children with fractures showed that their levels of vitamin D were low. And, magnesium deficiency can also result in calcium depletion and issues for a child’s healthy development.
The Top 3 Reasons Your Child Needs Calcium
Childhood is a key time for calcium consumption at adequate levels. It is simply a fact that bone calcium begins to decrease in young adulthood and people gradually lose bone density as they age. Teens, especially girls, whose diets do not provide the nutrients to build bones to their maximum potential are at greater risk of developing the bone disease osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures from weakened bones. There are three key reasons you should ensure your child receives the proper calcium intake daily:
Healthy Bone Development. Bones grow rapidly during childhood and adolescence, and children require calcium at levels that will support the building of strong bones and fight bone loss later in life. Proper consumption of calcium supports proper bone density that is especially important as children mature into adulthood.
Dietary Lifestyle. Today’s lifestyle does not always encourage proper calcium consumption. Children who drink soda, energy drinks or caffeinated beverages absorb even less calcium because these substances may interfere with the way the body absorbs and uses calcium. In addition, high levels of sugary sodas can cause tooth decay. Calcium may even help children keep weight off. Research suggests that if you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, you’re likely to be overweight. Of course, it’s possible to be overweight even of you do get plenty of calcium, but an adequate supply of calcium appears to make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
More Than Just Bones. Calcium is well-known as a building material for bones and teeth and is also needed to keep your child’s developing heart, nerves and organs in healthy working order. For example:
- Calcium helps regulate muscle function and heart contractions.
- Calcium plays a role in the transmission of nerve impulses and even helps blood clotting.
- Metabolism is dependent on calcium, and your parathyroid gland regulates how your body absorbs and uses calcium.
Good sources of calcium are dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese and kefir) as well as broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, salmon, sardines, almonds and brazil nuts. Because many children have milk allergies, consider goat’s milk instead. Goat’s milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk and is therefore easier to digest for those who are lactose intolerant. It also contains more calcium than cow’s milk.
Although it would be ideal if children could get the calcium they need through a healthy diet, it’s not always possible. In this busy day and age, children often do not get the amount of vegetables and nutrients they need every day. If your child isn’t getting enough of this essential mineral, supplementation becomes essential.
Supplementing with Calcium Citrate
There are a variety of forms of calcium including Calcium Citrate, Coral Calcium, Calcium Gluconate, Calcium Carbonate and more. When choosing a calcium supplement, it is important to choose a product that the body will absorb so it can obtain the benefits of this vital mineral. Many researchers believe calcium citrate offers a better source of calcium, especially for children. Unlike calcium carbonate (the main ingredient in many calcium supplements), calcium citrate does not need stomach acid to be broken down. Calcium citrate has a high level of absorption even when it is taken on an empty stomach.
Strong and Healthy
During these formative years, it is very important to ensure your child has adequate amounts of calcium. Provide them with plenty of calcium-rich foods in addition to a calcium-citrate based supplement, as necessary. Calcium is one nutrient kids cannot afford to skip.
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press;1997