Children need a calcium-rich diet from early on since this is when more than 99 per cent of the body’s calcium is laid in to build strong teeth and bones. Deficiency of calcium in children, which is a major concern in our times, can lead to diseases like osteoporosis and rickets.
The daily requirement of calcium for various age groups of children varies as per their age. Here is the recommended intake of calcium on the basis of age:0-6 months: 200mg, 7-12 months: 260mg, 1-3 years: 700mg, 4- 8 years: 1000mg, 9-18 years: 1300mg.
CALCIUM RICH FOODS FOR YOUR CHILD
Calcium is available in different quantities in food items such as dairy products, nuts and seeds. There are plenty of options for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian eaters. Given below are some easily available food items and their approximate calcium content.
1 . Milk
Apart from calcium, milk also contains vitamin D, magnesium and potassium. 1 Glass (200 ml) of milk contains approximately 235 mg of calcium. For lactose intolerant children, soy milk having 178 mg of calcium for the same serving is a good substitute.
2 . Yoghurt
Being more easily digestible than milk, yoghurt also contains more calcium for the same volume of milk. 1 cup of 150 g yoghurt can give your child 243 mg of calcium.
3 . Cheese
Hard cheese like parmesan has higher calcium content than softer varieties. Cottage cheese also known as paneer in India has high calcium content with 100 gm of paneer having 208 mg of calcium. Cheese has higher calcium content than paneer with 100 gm containing 368 mg calcium. A regular cheese slice of 20 gm would have about 74 mg of calcium.
4 . Broth
This one is for the non-vegetarians. Chicken broth made by boiling bones of chicken contains 187 mg of calcium for every 100 gm. You can also throw in fish bones in the broth to further increase the calcium content.
5 . Green Leafy Vegetables
Spinach contains 99 mg of calcium every 100 gm. The high calcium content of both palak and paneer make the common indian dish of palak paneer a particularly calcium rich dish. Apart from spinach, broccoli (47 mg calcium in 100 gm), bok choy/chinese cabbage (105 mg calcium in 100 gm) and cabbage (40 mg calcium in 100 gm) are also good sources of calcium.
6 . Nuts and Seeds
Of the nuts commonly available, almonds are a rich source with every 100 gm containing 264 mg of calcium. Sesame seeds are a particularly high source of calcium with about 2 tablespoons (28 gm) containing 130 mg of calcium. Encourage your child to have a handful of almonds or add them to his/her glass of milk or cereal bowl.
Ensure that your child also get enough Vitamin D along with the calcium as Vitamin D is required for the process of calcium absorption by the body. Exposure to sunshine is a free and useful source of Vitamin D.