Kids & Calcium
Children today are in a calcium crisis. Only 13% of teenage girls and about a third of teen boys get the recommended daily amount. Diets low in calcium put kids at risk for osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease.
During childhood, bones grow rapidly and reach their peak bone mass by around the age of 20. That’s why it’s critical for children and teens to do everything they can to build the strongest bones possible … while they have the chance. To do that, it’s important to get regular exercise and to eat a diet rich in calcium. Children ages 4 to 8 need 800 milligrams daily while those ages 9 to 18 need 1,300 milligrams. Milk, at 300 milligrams per cup, is one of the best calcium food sources but it’s not the only source.
Consider the following foods:
- Lowfat fruited or plain yogurt: One cup has 385 milligrams of calcium.
- Two calcium-fortified waffles or one glass of calcium-fortified orange juice has the same 300 milligrams of calcium as a glass of milk.
- One orange contains 52 milligrams of calcium.
- One glass of calcium-fortified soymilk also has 300 milligrams.
- One orange contains 60 milligrams of calcium. One Clementine has 22 milligrams.
- Snacking on 1/4 cup of almonds provides 88 milligrams.
- Prepare calcium-rich fruit and cheese kebabs by threading grapes, strawberries and chunks of lowfat cheese on wooden skewers. A one-ounce portion of cheese has over 200 milligrams of calcium.
- A cup of steamed broccoli has about 75 milligrams of calcium. Turn this so-so side dish to something sensational by tossing with extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt.
Our bodies need other nutrients including vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) and magnesium for optimal calcium absorption. Some good vitamin D food sources include seafood including salmon, shrimp, and cod, milk, fortified cereal, and eggs while good sources of magnesium include halibut, nuts, spinach and other green veggies, summer squash, sunflower seeds, legumes such as black beans and navy beans, and oatmeal.