Building a foundation of strong bones for life is one of the biggest opportunities in childhood. Do you know what to do to make the most of this time and ensure your little one grows a strong skeleton?
Rafferty’s Garden nutritionist Karen Kingham shares the important things you need to know about calcium for kids and babies.
Building it up
During childhood and adolescence the skeleton gets stronger and stronger. Bones are at their strongest around the mid-20s, a time known as ‘peak bone mass’. From this time on, our bones gradually start to weaken.
Getting diet right in the early years means peak bone mass is maximised your so your children have the strongest bones they can have going into adulthood.
Worryingly, intake surveys show many of our children are not getting the calcium they need in their childhood years for strong adult bones.
How much is enough?
Calcium needs in children grow as they do. Such are their requirements that by the age of 12 years our children’s needs for calcium are in fact greater than ours.
A bone building diet
Breast milk or formula provide your little one with all the bone building nutrients they need whilst on a milk diet. But from 6 months it becomes important to introduce calcium rich foods such as dairy milk, yoghurt and cheese or non-dairy calcium fortified foods such as soy based foods and beverages.
Cow’s milk cooked into custards and sauces or on cereal is fine from 6 months, however as a drink it should be introduced after the first year. Breast milk or formula are you baby’s bests drinking milks up until this time.
Dairy serves to meet calcium needs
What’s a serve?
One dairy serve is equivalent to:
1cup (250ml) milk
2 slices (40g) cheese
¾ cup (200ml) yoghurt
1 cup calcium fortified soy drink
For calcium to do its job well it needs to be supported by enough exercise and plenty of vitamin D.
Just like our muscles get stronger with exercise, so to do our bones. Directing children’s energies into play involving running and jumping is the perfect exercise for growing stronger harder bones. And, when exercise gets to happen outdoors children also have the chance to absorb vitamin D with safe sun exposure.
How do you get calcium into your little one’s diet? SHARE WITH US in the comments below.