Calculating Calcium intake in Children

                          Foods that provide a good source of Calcium include l Milk - whole milk, one cup - 295 mg Calcium per serve l Milk - reduced fat, one cup - 350 mg Calcium per serve l Cheese - one slice (20 gm) - 155 mg Calcium per serve l Cheese - one slice of reduced fat (20 gm) - 170 mg Calcium per serve l Curd - one cup (200 gm) - 300 mg Calcium per serve l Cottage cheese - two tablespoons - 27 mg Calcium per serve l Spinach - half cup, cooked - 36 mg Calcium per serve l Almonds - one tablespoon (15 gm) - 31 mg Calcium per serve l Soya drink - with added Calcium, one cup - 300 mg Calcium per serve l Soya drink - no Calcium added, one cup - 33 mg Calcium per serve Osteoporosis can lead to fragile bones and increased risk of fracture. Children or adults who consume a low Calcium diet are at higher risk of osteoporosis later in their life. So if you wish to have strong bones and avoid complications related to Calcium deficiency in your child, then having requisite amount of Calcium is the only mantra. A well balanced diet inclusive of dairy products is a must for children to ensure growth of their bones and teeth. Dietitians and dentists recommend that children must meet their Calcium requirements to avoid any future complications as severe Calcium deficiency can result into diseases like rickets in children and osteoporosis later in life. Calcium is the most common mineral in the body. Around 99 per cent of the Calcium in the body is found in the bones of our body; the rest is in teeth, soft tissues and blood. Our skeleton is a living tissue and acts as a Calcium reservoir, which needs to be topped up daily. A high intake of dietary Calcium is essential for growth of strong bones and teeth. Calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D work together in the body to achieve the right calcium levels that our body requires. Milk foods are the richest source of Calcium in a person's diet. Calcium absorption is helped by the milk sugar (lactose), which seems to assist in uptake of Calcium by the body. Vitamin D and phosphorus help the body to absorb Calcium. Doctors maintain that intake of too much milk can cause problems. Drinking more than 600 to 800 ml of milk a day may affect the child's appetite. They may eat less of other foods and it may affect their body to absorb iron. Milk is a major energy source during the rapid growth experienced by young children. Reduced fat milk is only suitable for certain age groups. l Children 1 to 2 years - low fat milk is not suitable; they should have full fat milk and dairy products. l Children over 2 years - can commence reduced fat milk and dairy products. Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of Calcium for children is as follows l Infants - 0 to 6 months (breastfed) - RDI 300 mg l Infants - 0 to 6 months (formula-fed) - RDI 500 mg l Babies - 7 to 12 months -RDI 550 mg l Children - 1 to 3 years - RDI 700 mg l Children - 4 to 7 years - RDI 800 mg l Children - 8 to 11 years (Girls) - RDI 900 mg, (Boys) - RDI 800 mg l Children & teenagers - 12 to 15 years (Girls) - RDI 1000 mg, (Boys) - RDI 1200 mg l Teenagers - 16 to 18 years (Girls) - RDI 800 mg, (Boys) - RDI 1000 mg Best sources of Calcium in food Current recommendations for children aged between 4 to 11 years is to consume two to three servings of dairy products per day. (One serving is equivalent to a cup of milk, 35 gm of cheese or 200 gm of curd). Children who don't drink milk If the child refuses to drink milk, Calcium can be obtained from the following foods l Cheese, curd or milk-based custards l Sardines and other fish that contain fine bones which can be eaten Nuts (like almonds) have moderate amount of Calcium and protein; however, for very young children, nuts are not suitable.