Running, jumping, climbing trees - children are like little engines that are always on the go. So, it would come as no surprise that strong bones play an essential role in keeping that little engine motoring on to new adventures!
According to Osteoporosis Australia, nearly 40% of peak bone mass is gained during puberty, with bone mass increasing 7 times in the space between birth and adolescence. But, how do you make sure that your little one's bones are as strong as they need to be? That they are getting enough essential nutrients in their diet for this vital task?
More than ensuring your child is growing and developing at a healthy rate, laying the foundation for strong bones is something that will greatly impact them in later life.
Building a higher peak bone mass early in life helps prevent osteoporosis later in life
- Nutrition Australia, 2018, http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/osteoporosis
The Importance of Calcium for Kids
In many parts of the world, lower than average calcium intakes may be putting people at risk of increased fractures or osteoporosis later in life¹. As peak bone mass is achieved when your child reaches their early twenties, it is a race against the clock to set them up with the foundation (literally) they'll rely on for life.
As Nutrition Australia puts it, "It is essential to eat enough calcium-rich foods and do regular physical activity (high impact or weight bearing) during the first twenty years of life to help achieve a healthy maximum bone density".
Now, calcium can be sourced in many different forms. The main source is one we all know - dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt, they all contain a good amount of calcium for your little one to utilise.
Does your child suffer from a lactose intolerance, food sensitivity or just picky eating? If so, you'll be pleased to know that dairy isn't the only source of calcium. Other than dairy, other sources of calcium include:
- Leafy, green vegetables including broccoli, bok choy and spinach
- Soy and tofu
- Fish like sardines and salmon (with bones)
- Some nuts and seeds such as Brazil nuts and almonds
To help ensure your child grows up with strong, healthy bones, adjusting their diet to include more calcium-rich food is a big tick in the win column. But, what happens if your child is a fussy eater whose tastes change as frequently as the weather?
Additional Sources of Calcium for Kids
As calcium is so crucial to a child's healthy bone growth and development, you may find that a good deal of products at the supermarket are fortified with calcium supplements. Keep an eye out next time you're at the shops - cereals and bread tend to be the most likely sources of additional calcium.
Alternatively, if you want to ensure that your child gets their recommended daily intake of calcium, you may want to consider giving your child a dietary calcium supplement. Available at pharmacies and even supermarkets, calcium supplements can help to support:
- Bone health and strength
- Maintaining healthy nervous and neuromuscular system function
- Assisting the development of healthy teeth
Remember, if you have any concerns that your child is not getting their recommended daily intake of calcium, pay a visit to your local healthcare professional to discuss your options.
Would you like to learn more about calcium supplements for children? If so, you can find more information here.
¹Balk, E, Adam, G, Langberg, V, Earley, A, Clark, P, Ebeling, P, et al. (2017). Global dietary calcium intake among adults: a systematic review. Osteoporosis International, 28 (12), 3315-3324.