Calcium is important for building strong, healthy bones in growing children. But, most pre-schoolers don’t get the recommended amount of calcium.
According to Parents, children are not getting enough calcium. 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 pre-schooler into the habit of eating calcium-rich foods as lack of calcium can interfere in bone mass development, which can interfere in growth.
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Baby Center says children between 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 as it helps in:
- Formation of bones: In preschoolers, 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: According to Chemicool, 99 per cent of calcium in the human body is found in the teeth and bones alone. So, make sure your preschooler is getting the required amount of calcium.
Calcium is also important for maintaining healthy muscles and helps in blood clot formation.
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Sources of calcium for preschoolers
To ensure your preschooler gets enough calcium for healthy growth and development, include these foods in his diet:
- Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best natural sources of calcium is dairy products like. Make sure you add these to your preschooler'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 preschoolers can be given non-dairy foods high in calcium.
- Oranges: If your preschooler 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.
- 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. Preschoolers 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.
- 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 preschoolers diet to ensure proper bone growth and development. Green peas may also help preserve bone mineral density due to their vitamin K content.
- Almonds: This tasty nut packs a significant amount of calcium. A third of a cup contains about 264 mg of calcium. If your preschooler loves peanut butter, try giving him almond butter to meet his calcium need.
- Fish: Does your preschooler 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.
- 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 preschooler 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 preschooler to get vitamin D is to get a little sun every day.
How to maximise your preschooler’s calcium intake:
In spite of your best efforts, your pre-schooler may not be getting enough calcium. Look at some ways to make sure he gets enough calcium.
- Use milk in place of water when you prepare hot cocoa or soup for your preschooler.
- Add yogurt to fruit salads, milk powder to pancake batter, and cheese to vegetables and mashed potatoes.
- 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 pre-schooler enjoyed them in the comments below.
Go through this ClipBook which has a compilation of calcium-rich foods from both dairy and non-dairy sources.