Why shouldn't you opt for calcium supplements for kids?
One of the most common misconceptions that people have is that they need to consume a lot of calcium and that the calcium from natural foods is not enough. To compensate for this, many people give their children calcium supplements to ensure they meet the standard recommended daily allowance for calcium.
But, when calcium is so abundantly available in natural foods, is consuming a supplement really beneficial? Does our body require high doses of calcium? And what happens when we consume excess calcium?
As per medical studies, the recommended daily intake for calcium in adults is 1000 mg and for children it varies as per their age. Toddlers up to 3 years require 700 mg of calcium. Growing kids aged from 3 to 9 years require 1000 mg of calcium whereas children aged from 9 years to 18 years require 1200 mg.
Pediatricians often recommend giving children calcium supplements. These supplements are nothing but chemicals in the form of chewables. These contain calcium along with other minerals that are essential for good health. But there is a caveat with consuming such calcium supplements.
1. Calcium absorption depends on Vitamin D
While consuming calcium is essential for the body’s functions, making sure that your child gets enough Vitamin D is also extremely essential. It is Vitamin D or Vitamin D3 that helps calcium absorption. Once calcium is absorbed by the body, it gets utilized for the body’s muscular functions and for bone repair. Any excess gets deposited in our bones. Excess calcium is filtered through the kidneys.
Getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D is extremely important to ensure the calcium we consume is properly absorbed into the body. Even if your child’s diet is naturally rich in calcium sources, if Vitamin D production in the body is less, then this calcium will not be processed and will be filtered out.
The best source for Vitamin D is natural sunlight. Make sure your child gets some time in the sun every day. Apart from that, ensure your child eats enough essential fats that help with the conversion of Vitamin D into the usable Vitamin D3. In case your child is still deficient in Vitamin D, then you can consider providing fortified foods or a special Vitamin D3 supplement.
2. Excess calcium can lead to health problems
Even though a direct link hasn’t been established between excess calcium and health problems, taking supplements could lead to health issues such as heart problems, kidney stones, and calcification of arteries. While these problems build up over time, it is important to remember that calcium supplements are essentially chemicals that have been processed for human consumption. But consuming natural foods is different since the body throws out excess nutrients. Consuming too many nutritional supplements can invariably lead to overworking the kidneys. Thereby, excessive calcium intake does have a link to kidney stones.
So, why should we risk our child’s health by giving them a supplement when there is enough calcium to be found in fruits and vegetables? It’s safer and healthier to feed them natural and unprocessed foods.
What to do to ensure my child’s calcium requirements are met?
The first thing is to let them play in the sun. By ensuring your child gets time in the sun, you will ensure that Vitamin D is getting produced because of UV-B rays that the sun emits. By ensuring a good and healthy Vitamin D production, you can ensure that the calcium that your child gets from his or her diet gets fully absorbed into the body, thus offering better health and more energy.
Here are some natural sources of calcium:
- Milk and dairy products
- Green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and fenugreek
- Dried figs
By giving your child enough of these items, you can boost their calcium intake. It is not necessary to consume these all the time, but consuming even some of them once a day can help provide the body the calcium it needs. Combined with adequate Vitamin D3, this calcium will help ensure better muscle coordination and movement and build stronger bones.
One of the major factors that help better nutrient absorption is to cook food that is fresh. Buy fresh food in smaller quantities and cook it fresh to make sure that maximum nutrients are preserved. Another alternative is to give your child some milk or milk product every day, especially during the night. This will offer a boost in nutrition and promise restful and calm sleep.