Calcium, like most minerals found in teeth, helps your teeth fend off tooth decay and its further complications. It does this by strengthening the jawbone, which holds the teeth in place. It also fortifies the teeth themselves. This fortification makes teeth less vulnerable to the damage dealt with it by bacteria. You’re also less likely to lose teeth when you have the right amount of calcium in your system. But how much calcium do you need? Or, more importantly, how much calcium does your child need?
Getting an adequate amount of calcium during childhood is imperative for healthy adult development. It’s only through childhood and adolescence that we can build up a foundation for healthy bones and teeth. As calcium absorption lessens over time, it becomes harder to get the needed supplements to build on them. Seeing to it that your child gets enough calcium while they’re still young, then, could benefit their futures.
How do you know how much calcium your child needs, then? There are a few things to consider:
Your child’s calcium needs depend on how old they are
As your child grows, their bodily needs change as well. Infants, for instance, typically still rely on their mother’s milk for sustenance. Because human milk is highly nutritious, babies need only 700 mg of calcium daily. The older they grow, however, the greater this requirement becomes. A child of 4-8 years, for instance, needs 1000 mg. And once they turn 9, their calcium intake grows to 1300 mg per day.
Part of this growing need stems from higher efficiency in calcium absorption once the child reaches adolescence. It’s also during this time that a child begins to develop their peak bone mass. This growth could boost further if they had adequate calcium intake when they were younger. As of now, researchers have yet to delve into the effects of excessive calcium intake.
Is your child at risk?
Another factor to consider when assessing how much calcium your child needs is their risk factor. Premature babies, for instance, will require more calcium supplements than babies born full-term. The same goes for older kids.
If your child, for instance, seems to exhibit signs of calcium deficiency, it might be time to up their intake. According to a 1999 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), optimal calcium intake for children aged 9-18 lies between 1200-1500 mg per day. This said, there are ways to fill up this requirement.
For one, parents may opt to provide calcium supplements to kids who are genuinely at risk. The AAP study notes that supplementing calcium to children as young as six may produce beneficial effects, although they have yet to be fully looked into.
Aside from supplementation, however, the best way to ensure that your child gets all the calcium they need is to add calcium-rich food into their diet. These foods include dairy products, eggs, and calcium-rich vegetables such as broccoli and legumes. The best part? Integrating these foods into their diet don’t just fill up their calcium quota. It can also aid other aspects of their dental health as well.