Got Calcium?

Why do kids need calcium?

Calcium-rich foods are a must have in kids’ diets. After all, calcium is a key building block for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Because children’s bones are constantly growing, it’s imperative they get the adequate calcium intake. But, calcium is responsible for more than our skeletal system. Calcium is also essential for muscle contraction, blood vessel constriction and relaxation, hormone secretion, and nervous system function.

Helping kids build strong bones for adulthood

According to the National Institutes of Health, the human body goes through a remodeling process. The process consists of removing small amounts of calcium from our bones and replacing it with new calcium. But, if the body eliminates more calcium from bones than it replenishes, the bones can become weaker and are more prone to breaking.

Surprisingly, the human body has a “calcium bank account.” This allows your body to deposit as much calcium as possible during your early years. Young adulthood is the period when bones build up to their peak strength. A person with a high bone mass as a child or adolescent will be more likely to have a higher bone mass later in life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inadequate calcium intake could result in a failure to achieve peak bone mass in adulthood. Unfortunately, once the body reaches age 19, the “calcium bank account” closes and no more calcium can be added to the bones. Your body can only maintain the calcium that is already stored to help your bones stay healthy. This is why it’s imperative that children get their right amount of calcium.

 

Below is a chart that provides the recommended intake of calcium for kids from the National Institutes of Health

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Great sources of calcium

Many foods contain calcium. The highest sources of calcium are in dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. However, calcium is also found in dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, as well as chickpeas, orange juice, soy beverages, rice drinks, and some cereals. The NIH recommends calcium supplements as an “additional, alternative way to get calcium for children who do not drink or cannot have milk or milk products.”

 

Make sure to check out these links to learn more about calcium:

 

Photo Credit: Artemtation

This blog post is part of #MIKidsCan, an initiative created by Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan to promote positive change in the health and well-being of Michigan youth. To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/mikidscan

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