How Much Calcium Does My Child Need Every Day?

Over the last few years, women in India, especially during their middle-age and menopause, have realised the significant problems of osteoporosis- a bone disease due to inadequate calcium intake. However, for most women, it’s a case of – too late and too little.

This is because, calcium storage and acquisition in your body begins early in life, especially during the growing up adolescent years.

Here, in today’s post, we show you how as mothers you can prevent osteoporosis and other calcium deficiency related diseases, by providing your kids with the right nutrition during the growing up years.

How to ensure that your Kids build Strong and Healthy Bones?

To meet the goal of strong and healthy bones, you need to ensure that your kids:

- Drink or eat the recommended amount of calcium-containing food

- Allow maximum absorption of calcium from the gut

- Store calcium in the bones as much as possible during the growing up years

- And, prevent calcium loss over the years as your children step into adulthood

To ensure that your child meets the above goal, you need to increase the amount of calcium in their diet, so that they meet the daily recommended requirements.

What’s the recommended calcium intake for children?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of calcium for children depends on several factors like – age of the child, gender, and lifestyle.

Continue reading to find out how much calcium your child needs in a day and how to provide it?

Ages RDA Cacium Intake
0 to 6 months 200mg/day
6 to 12 months 260mg/day
1 to 3 years 700mg/day
4 to 8 years 1000mg/day
9 to 13 years 1300mg/day
14 to 18 years 1300mg/day
Recommended calcium intake for kids aged between 4 and 8.

Kids this age require around 1000 mg of calcium per day. This means they are required to drink around three 8 oz (around 240 ml) of milk every day. A glass of milk contains around 300 mg of calcium. If you find it difficult, to get your kids to drink milk thrice a day, you can switch over to calcium-fortified milk that provides added calcium in a single glass. This way, your children can easily meet their calcium requirements, without having to drink milk several times a day.

If your children don’t like milk, you can consider unsweetened orange juice as an alternative. However, this is less than optimal since orange juice doesn’t contain Vitamin D (which is required for the body to absorb calcium) nor the fat and protein provided by milk.

The best alternative is to consider unsweetened flavoured milk to ensure that your child gets his/her recommended calcium every day. You can try chilled milks or milkshakes to add variety to your child’s diet.

Children aged between 4 to 8 are less likely to retain calcium in their bones, compared to children in the pubertal age group. This means it’s highly critical that you take adequate steps to ensure that they get sufficient calcium.

Recommended calcium intake for kids aged between 9 and 18.

For kids aged 9, the recommended calcium intake is about 1300 mg per day until they turn 18. Several studies reveal that the children in this age group don’t get the recommended calcium per day.

- Children aged between 9 and 13 usually consume just 1000 mg of calcium per day, and the intake is much lower for girls (just 800 mg per day).

- With regard to the children in the age group of 14 to 18, on an average, the boys consumed just over 1000 mg per day, while the calcium intake of girls in this age group was found to be lesser than 700 mg per day.

Girls require more calcium than boys since they are likely to experience high calcium usage as they start menstruating and bearing children in their adult years. Calcium is best absorbed and stored in the body during the adolescent years, so as parents you need to take extra care to provide kids with more calcium during the pubertal years.

Try to increase milk consumption, as even a small increase in milk consumption causes better bone mineral density in the adult years.

Best Sources of Calcium to Boost Calcium Levels in Children

- Milk (look for calcium and vitamin D fortified milk)

- Dairy products (cheese, paneer, curd)

- Calcium-fortified orange juice

- Tofu

- Seafood like salmon

- Almonds, oranges, figs, prunes

- Sweet potato, broccoli, green peas

- Chickpeas, white and red beans

Ensure that your kids receive adequate calcium in their diet.

While calcium is available in various foods, the best source is milk. Look for calcium and vitamin D fortified milk, to help your children develop strong and healthy bones.