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You know calcium is very important for your body, but did you know that it’s crucial for your growing toddler, too?

Calcium is a mineral that stored in bones and teeth in our body.  Also, calcium plays an important role in transmitting messages through the nerves, muscle contraction and the release of hormones.

99% of our calcium is stored in our bones, and our bodies rely on this storage to pull from if our diet is deficient. And because children’s body is in bone-building and teeth-building mode, you should make sure they get enough of it. At this critical stage of development, the body needs a great deal of calcium. It also absorbs calcium more effectively than at any other time of life. For this reason, child health experts recommend that children and teens consume extra calcium to help keep their bones strong and healthy through adulthood.


Calcium and Vitamin D


The amount of calcium absorbed into our bones is dependent on how much Vitamin D we get. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. That makes vitamin D just as important as calcium for toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children between the ages of 1 and 3 get 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. Younger kids and babies with little calcium and vitamin D intake are at increased risk for rickets (a bone-softening disease that causes severe bowing of the legs, poor growth, muscle pain and weakness).

If your muscles don’t get enough calcium, then they can cramp, hurt, or feel weak. You may have chronic muscle aches and pains. Getting enough vitamin D helps prevent these problems.

Maintaining adequate calcium intake during childhood is necessary for the development of a maximal peak bone mass. Increasing peak bone mass may be an important way to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later adulthood.


Calcium requirements for toddlers


  • Babies 0 to 6 months: 200 milligrams of calcium per day
  • Babies 7 to 12 months: 260 milligrams of calcium per day
  • Kids ages 1 to 3: 700 milligrams of calcium per day
  • Kids ages 4 to 8: 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day


Unfortunately, most children, especially teens, get much less than their recommended daily requirements. The Australian National Nutrition Survey revealed that 77% of girls and 64% of boys aged 12 to 15 years were not getting the daily requirements of calcium.

Formula-fed babies are estimated to need more calcium than babies that are breastfed, because the calcium in infant formula may not be absorbed as efficiently as that found in breastmilk.


Best calcium-rich foods for toddlers and kids:


Dairy products are one of the best (and toddler-friendly) ways to help your child get enough calcium.  Calcium is also found in dark leafy greens, bony fish such as sardines and in smaller quantities in some nuts and seeds. Here are foods that are rich in calcium:

  • Seeds. For example, 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds pack 126 mg of calcium, or 13% of the RDI.
  • Cheese. Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium. Parmesan cheese has the most, with 331 mg — or 33% of the RDI — per ounce (28 grams).
  • Yogurt.  It is an excellent source of calcium. Many types of yogurt are also rich in live probiotic bacteria. One cup (245 grams) of plain yogurt contains 30% of the RDI for calcium.
  • Sardines and Canned Salmon. They are loaded with calcium, thanks to their edible bones. A 3.75-ounce (92-gram) can of sardines packs 35% of the RDI.
  • Beans. A single cup (172 grams) of cooked wing beans has 244 mg, or 24% of the RDI for calcium.
  • Almonds.Of all nuts, almonds are among the highest in calcium — one ounce of almonds, or about 22 nuts, delivers 8% of the RDI.

If you’re still concerned your child is not getting the recommended daily intake of calcium for their age group, speak to your GP or consider a kid’s calcium supplement or vitamin D supplement. This may be especially beneficial for those with food intolerances.