Kids Need Calcium to Build Strong Bones

Osteoporosis, a disease of bone loss leads to debilitating fractures, earlier known to affect only the older generations is now discovered to be a problem common to the kids as well.

calcium.jpg Researches in the recent past have shown that children are drinking increasing amounts of sodas and fruit juices and less milk. While other foods contain calcium - the mineral so important to building strong bones - few deliver as much as a glass of milk.

Calcium is essential for many purposes, including tooth formation and proper nerve and muscle functioning. Under normal circumstances, we maintain a tight range of calcium in our bloodstream no matter what our intake. Extra calcium is banked in bones, to be used when needed.

Few parents realize that children need to consume enough calcium while they are building bones to ensure a strong skeletal system. How much is enough?

  1. Infants under 12 months old should be fed breast milk and need no special calcium supplementation.
  2. Toddlers from 1 to 3 years old need 500 mg per day
  3. Children from 4 to 8 years old need 800 mg per day
  4. Youngsters through teens, 9 to 18 years old, need a hefty 1,300 mg per day.
  5. An 8-ounce glass of milk provides about 300 mg, and the same amount of yogurt provides even more. Cheese packs 200 mg per ounce.

Mothers should think of creative ways to add milk while cooking. Toss spoonfuls of nonfat, powdered milk into tomato sauces, casseroles, mashed potatoes and pancake batter. Use milk instead of water when preparing oatmeal, bread or pizza dough, canned or packaged cream soups and sauces, and rice or pilaf dishes. Sprinkle cheese on steamed vegetables, or make a cheesy dipping sauce for fresh veggies sticks. Most kids enjoy a snack of a freshly blended drink, made with combinations of their favorite fruits mixed with yogurt, ice cream or milk.

Consider bringing back the traditional after-school or bedtime snack of cookies and milk. It's a wonderful calcium-rich experience that will build fond memories - and bones - as your children grow.