Everybody probably thinks they know what calcium is, but as a refresher, calcium is a mineral found in many foods. Why does calcium matter? That’s easy—our bodies need calcium to not only maintain strong bones, but also to carry out other important functions. Almost ALL calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and hardness. Suffice it to say that for humans, calcium is an essential mineral. The body’s need to use and store calcium starts young. Think of the massive amounts of growing that take place in childhood and you’ll see why calcium is so important. So how to make sure your child is getting enough calcium? Let’s start by understanding how much calcium children need.
You should also read up on the importance of having enough calcium in the bones: Bone Health
How Much Calcium Children Need
Before you work on increasing your child’s calcium levels, you should determine if he or she is getting enough already. This means you need to know how much calcium children need every day. According to the NIH, children need the following amount of calcium on a daily basis:
|6 months or younger||200 mg/day|
|6 to 12 months||260 mg/day|
|1 to 3 years||700 mg/day|
|4 to 8 years||1,000 mg/day|
|9 to 13 years||1,300 mg/day|
|14 to 18 years||1,300 mg/day|
Look at the gigantic jump between how much calcium children need when they are three and what they need when they are tweens and teens. It makes sense, though, doesn’t it? Think about the growing that happens between the ages of nine to about 18, and it only makes sense that extra calcium would be required to support that growth. My kids have just turned twelve and I swear they’ve grown four inches in the last year alone. That’s a lot of growth and I imagine you are seeing that in your kids as well.
So we know how much calcium children need every day; how do parents make sure they get this much calcium? Start by ensuring they’re eating the right foods, as this is the most natural way to increase calcium. You can always add calcium supplements as needed, but try to get as much calcium in their diets as you can by way of calcium-rich foods and drinks if possible.
Foods That Can Boost Your Child’s Calcium Levels
Many people first think of dairy products when it’s time to boost calcium levels in the body. That’s because dairy—particularly milk—is the very best source of calcium. Children who are 2 to 3 years old can get sufficient calcium when they drink 2 cups of milk each day. The recommended amount increases to 2.5 cups at age 4, and after age 9, kids and teenagers should have 3 cups per day.
Of course, milk isn’t the only dairy product with plenty of calcium, so don’t worry if your kids don’t like to drink milk. Other sources of calcium in the dairy group include:
- Hard, soft, or processed cheeses (including cheddar, ricotta, and American cheese)
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
- Smoothies (made, of course, using milk or yogurt or almond, soy or coconut milk)
What About Lactose Intolerant Kids or Kids Who Don’t Like Dairy?
So what about lactose intolerant kids or kids who don’t like dairy products? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways to get calcium through dairy-free sources. One option is through non-dairy milk, such as almond milk, soymilk, and coconut milk, since these drinks are usually fortified with calcium.
In fact, you can make a treat with your dairy-free milk of choice: Calcium Needs for Children+Banana Berry Blast Smoothie Recipe
As far as dairy-free food options, there are some options, but I’m not gonna lie, many of these options might not be attractive to kiddos. At least they’re generally not all that attractive to my kiddos who are generally speaking pretty great eaters. Take a look—here are some dairy-free sources of calcium:
- Canned salmon (including the bones, which is the source of the calcium)
- Canned sardines
- Bok choy
- Sweet potatoes
- Mustard greens
My kids have pretty sophisticated palates and eat a variety of foods, but canned salmon, sardines, and tofu are out. Figs are a maybe, when they’re in season, as are sweet potatoes. They do, however, eat the leafy green veggies but you’ve got to eat a TON of them to hit the daily amount of calcium children need. If you have trouble getting your kids to eat any of these dairy-free calcium-rich foods, you can try more kid-friendly options, such as cereal or oatmeal, which are often fortified with calcium. The challenge for me is that we’re not a family of cereal or oatmeal eaters as a breakfast solution, we’re more into fresh fruit, pancakes, or eggs. So it can be a challenge to not only figure out how much calcium kids need, but also to get it into them by way of the food they eat.
Need dairy-free options? Check out Dairy-Free Ways Moms Can Get Kids the Calcium They Need
Remove the Guesswork—Add a Calcium Supplement
Of course, the easiest way to remove the guesswork about how much calcium kids keed and whether you’re getting it into them is to add a calcium supplement to the mix. That’s where FitFormula’s Cal-EZ Calcium + Vitamin D comes in. I honestly had no idea how far off the mark I was in knowing how much calcium kids need until I started working with the FitFormula team and learning about the importance of calcium and how much calcium kids need at different ages. The good news for me is that I figured it out right at the time when my tweens need the maximum amount of calcium, so I feel fortunate in that regard.
FitFormula’s flavorless, tasteless powder is easy to stir into a glass of water, an Izze, Gatorade, or anything else they like to drink. It quickly dissolves and there’s no grittiness or nasty flavor and best of all, no gigantic calcium pill to try and choke down. FitFormula’s Cal-EZ Calcium + Vitamin D delivers 1,000 mg of calcium per day. We’ve also got a Blueberry flavor coming out in a few months, which I’m sure is going to be a big hit with the kiddos, so be watching for that as well.
Want to give it a try? We hope so! You can buy FitFormula’s Cal-EZ Calcium + D at 50 percent off using code: FitFormula50 to see for yourself how easy it is to make sure you’re getting your kids the calcium they need and the strong bones and teeth they’ll need to carry them into adulthood.
More sources on getting more calcium in your child’s diet: