Child health and calcium

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When considering their children's nutrition, parents often think more about fat, carbohydrates, and calories, and forget about calcium. Calcium is essential for children's health. Essential for growth during childhood and adolescence, childhood intake of Calcium is determines their health as an adult.

Calcium is an important nutrient that is typically obtained through dietary intake and is stored in your child's bones and teeth. While most children are able to obtain sufficient calcium from dietary sources, some children, particularly those who cannot tolerate dairy products, may require supplementation. Calcium in foods does not cause constipation, but calcium supplements often have this side effect


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Why should I be aware of this?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "The average dietary intake of calcium by children and adolescents is well below the recommended levels of adequate intake." This can mean that these children will not develop their optimal bone mass, which can put them at risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

All about Calcium and child health

Calcium is the primary structural mineral in the body, meaning it allows us to stand upright by giving strength to our bones. However, it has many other functions as well.

The function of Calcium in the child's body

Calcium helps regulate cell permeability, is critical for maintenance of acid-base balance and assists many other body activities as well. These include male and female hormone secretion, cell division and osmotic balance. It stabilizes cell membranes, helps muscles relax and slows nerve transmission and the heart rate. Calcium also helps prevent fluid loss from cells and from the blood.

Calcium inhibits thyroid-releasing hormone and increases insulin secretion. It inhibits the sympathetic nervous system. It is required for phosphorus metabolism and energy production in the krebs cycle.

Calcium is also important as a detoxifier, preventing the uptake of lead and cadmium. Blood clotting and fat digestion depend on calcium. Calcium is extremely alkaline-forming and helps maintain the pH balance of the blood.

Stability, hardness and physicality are qualities of calcium. When deficient, one becomes weak and fragile. When calcium is in excess one becomes rigid and immobile. Its opposite elements are phosphorus and sodium, elements that activate and dissolve things. Calcium personality types are earthy, plodding, steady and blunt. They often move slowly and awkwardly and are unpolished in their language and mannerisms. They develop slowly and have a great potential for love and spirituality

Daily Calcium Needs

It is also important to understand how much calcium kids actually need. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences recommends: •500 mg a day for kids who are 1 to 3 years old •800 mg a day for kids who are 4 to 8 years old •1,300 mg a day for kids who are 9 to 18 years old Keep in mind that calcium's percent Daily Value (% DV), which is a guide to how much of a particular nutrient you should get each day, on food labels is based on the adult requirements of 1000 mg a day. So a cup of milk that was 30% DV for calcium, would be equal to 300 mg of calcium, which would actually be equal to 60% of a toddler's calcium needs for the day. But it would be only about 23% of a teen's calcium needs. That means that you can only really use the % DV as a guide to how much calcium your kids are getting from the foods they are eating each day.

Calcium Rich Foods

In addition to choosing foods from the following list, you should learn to look at food labels and choose foods that have a high % DV for calcium and at least 20% or more. You may find big differences in the calcium content of foods, even among different brands of the same foods such as cheese, juice, and bread. •Yogurt, plain •Yogurt, fruit •Milk, low fat or nonfat •Milk, whole •Cheese, including American, ricotta, cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese •Milk shakes •Eggnog Remember that just because your child is eating cheese, that doesn't mean that she is getting a lot of calcium. Check the nutrition label to make sure the cheese has a lot of calcium. And also look for foods made with these calcium rich foods as ingredients, such as a macaroni and cheese (cheese), pudding (milk), and nachos (cheese). Nondairy Foods with Calcium Getting enough calcium can be a especially hard if your kids are allergic to milk. These nondairy foods can be good choices for kids with milk allergies who need calcium: •Salmon •Tofu •Rhubarb •Sardines •Collard greens •Spinach •Turnip greens •Okra •White beans •Baked beans •Broccoli •Peas •Brussel sprouts •Sesame seeds •Bok choy •Almonds

Calcium-fortified Foods

In addition to the large number of calcium rich foods that are naturally found, like milk and cheese, a lot of foods are now fortified with calcium. These can be especially good choices if your child doesn't like to drink milk. •Calcium-fortified breakfast cereal, including General Mills Whole Grain Total, Total Raisin Bran, Total Cranberry Crunch, and Total Honey Clusters, all of which have 100% DV of calcium per serving! •Calcium-fortified orange juice •Calcium-fortified soy milk •SunnyD with Calcium (most SunnyD products don't have calcium, so look for the one that does if your child needs extra calcium in his diet) •Instant oatmeal •Calcium-fortified bread or English muffins •Calcium-fortified drink mixes such as Pediasure or Carnation Instant Breakfast •Other calcium-fortified breakfast cereals, including General Mills Golden Grahams (350 mg) By learning to read food labels, you may be able to find other foods that are fortified with calcium.

What You Need To Know

•Talk to your Pediatrician if you aren't sure if your child is getting enough calcium in his diet.


•Most varieties of children's vitamins don't have much calcium in them and you may need a special calcium supplement instead.


•Choose from a combination of calcium rich foods to get even more calcium in your child's diet, such as a grilled cheese sandwich using calcium-fortified bread and cheese or a calcium fortified breakfast cereal with half a cup of low-fat milk.


•In addition to getting enough calcium in your diet, regular exercise is also important for healthy bones.

Symptoms of calcium imbalance

  • Deficiency Symptoms. These may include osteoporosis, rickets, non-union of fractures, tooth decay and insomnia. Teeth, fingers and other bones may be misshapen. Posture can be poor and legs bowed. Other symptoms are muscle cramps, irritability, hyperkinesis, hyperacidity, bruising, high blood pressure, fight-or-flight reactions, fast oxidation, lead and cadmium toxicity, tetany and cancer.
  • Toxicity Symptoms. Calcium toxicity symptoms may include fatigue, depression, defensiveness, muscle weakness, pain, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, kidney stones and gallstones. Others are bone spurs, rigidity, slow metabolism, constipation, social withdrawal and spondylitis (rigidity and inflammation of the spine).
  • Biounavailable Calcium. In many instances, calcium is biounavailable. This means it is present, but cannot be used properly. This condition causes symptoms of deficiency and excess at the same time.

References

  • Calcium Rich Foods
  • Calcium and your child