Calcium is the main mineral that strengthens bones. Getting enough calcium is important for everyone, but for children and teens, it is critical. These are the years that bones are growing fast and calcium is being stored in the bone to make them strong. Most of the stored calcium for bone strength is laid down by age 17. Helping your children get into the daily habit of eating enough calcium-rich foods decreases their risk for weak bones later in life.
How much calcium does my child need?
Unfortunately our children and teenagers are not getting enough calcium. National nutrition surveys show that most teen girls and almost half of teen boys are not getting the recommended amount of calcium they need. The amount of calcium in food is measured in the milligrams (ml). For example, 1 cup of milk has about 300 mg of calcium in it.
The following are the recommended amounts of calcium a child should have every day.
Calcium Per Day
Number of Servings
About 1 milk group servings per day
About 2 milk group servings per day
About 3 milk group servings per day
What dairy foods are good sources of calcium?
Milk is one of the best sources of calcium. Babies under 1 year old should drink breast milk or iron-fortified formula. Children 1 to 2 years old should drink whole milk because certain fats are needed for development during this early stage. Between the ages of 2 and 5 years, gradually switch from whole milk to low-fat milk or fat free milk. There are plenty of other dairy foods other than plain plain milk.