7 Calcium Rich Foods For Kids

Are you worried your pre-schooler is not getting enough calcium? It is vital for developing strong bones. Fortunately, there are many calcium rich foods for kids that you can include in his daily diet

By Ashwin Dewan

7 Calcium Rich Foods For Kids
Sources of calcium for preschoolers

Do you know that calcium rich food for kids such as fish, eggs and dairy products is important for building strong, healthy bones in growing children? But, most children don’t get the recommended amount of calcium in their diet. Too much of juice and soft drinks and too little of milk are factors which has resulted in this scenario. It is crucial to get your child into the habit of eating calcium-rich foods as lack of calcium can interfere in bone mass development, which can interfere in growth.

Children between the ages 1-3 years require 700 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. Children between ages 4-8 years require 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Calcium is very important and helps in:

  • Formation of bones: In children, bones are still developing and calcium plays an important part in bone development. Calcium-rich foods help in bone formation and changes in the bone structure as your little one grows.
  • Development of strong teeth: Studies says that 99 per cent of calcium in the human body is found in the teeth and bones alone. So, make sure your child is getting the required amount of calcium and vitamin D foods. One way to do this is by making calcium rich recipes that is both healthy and tasty.
“I think calcium and vitamin D are important for bone health, but I recommend that patients get calcium from their diet,” explains Dr. Meryl LeBoff, director of the Skeletal Health and Osteoporosis Center and Bone Density Unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. 
“In individuals who can’t meet the dietary recommendations, I would recommend supplements.” She further adds.

Sources of calcium for children

To ensure your child gets enough calcium for healthy growth and development, include these foods in his diet:

  1. Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best natural sources of calcium is dairy products like. Make sure you add these to your child's diet often. He may start drinking less milk as he grows older but he can get his calcium intake from other dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Lactose-intolerant children can be given non-dairy foods high in calcium.
  2. Oranges: If your child is fussy about drinking his glass of milk, try giving him a glass of fresh orange juice instead. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, an orange with a serving size of 150 g has 60 mg of calcium. You could opt for packaged orange juice but remember they are packed with additives and flavouring agents.
  3. Drumstick greens: They are known for their high calcium content. This vegetable has about 440 mg of calcium per 100 g of raw vegetable, according to MedIndia. Children may not like the taste of these greens so you can try including a little in their roti or blending them with dal to make soup. 
  4. Green peas: Green peas are a rich source of calcium. One cup of green peas contains about 45 mg of calcium. You can add them to your child's diet to ensure proper bone growth and development. Green peas may also help preserve bone mineral density due to their vitamin K content.
  5. Almonds: This tasty nut packs a significant amount of calcium. A third of a cup contains about 264 mg of calcium. If your child loves peanut butter, try giving him almond butter to meet his calcium need.
  6. Fish: Does your child love non-vegetarian food? Fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna are good sources of calcium. EverydayHEALTH says 85 grams of pink salmon provides about 180 mg of calcium. You must be careful about the bones. One way to do this is to mash the salmon so the bones are visible and can be easily extracted.
  7. Eggs: A boiled egg contains 50 mg of calcium. Eggs can be a great breakfast option for your child. However, it may not be ideal to give her an egg daily because the yolk is high in cholesterol.

Calcium sources for lactose intolerant children

If you’ve identified your child to be lactose intolerant and are looking for ways to meet his daily requirement of calcium, we have the answers.

  • Calcium-fortified juice
  • Vegetables and fruit like okra, spinach and figs
  • Soya seeds and tofu
  • Sesame seeds and almonds

If you wish to opt for calcium supplements for your toddler, speak to your doctor first.

Note: Without vitamin D, the body will find it hard to absorb calcium. An effective way for your child to get vitamin D is to get a little sun every day.

How to maximise your child's calcium intake:

In spite of your best efforts, your child may not be getting enough calcium. Look at some ways to make sure he gets enough calcium.

  1. Use milk in place of water when you prepare hot cocoa or soup for your child.
  2. Add yogurt to fruit salads, milk powder to pancake batter, and cheese to vegetables and mashed potatoes.
  3. When grocery shopping, try to buy calcium-fortified juice, bread and cereal.

Now, that you are aware of the sources of calcium and its benefits, you should be able to give your child a variety of foods to build stronger bones. Tell us which of these foods you tried and how your child enjoyed them in the comments below.

Also read:

Various sources of calcium for lactose intolerant children

Soak up the sunshine vitamin

7 zinc rich foods for your child

Multivitamins for kids: Pros and cons of vitamin supplements

About the author:

Written by Ashwin Dewan on 31 August 2017.

Updated on 25 September 2019.

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