Every parent wants their children to grow up strong and healthy. That is why a child’s diet is so important during their growing stages. In this busy day and age, children often do not get the amount of nutrients they need every day or are too picky to eat all the healthy foods. During childhood and adolescence stages, the body uses calcium to build strong bones. Calcium is one nutrient kids cannot afford to skip.

Calcium plays an important role not only in building strong and healthy bones, but also in muscle contraction, transmitting messages through he nerves and the release of hormones. Low calcium levels in the blood will force calcium to be taken away from the bones to ensure normal cell function. Thus this increases the risk of rickets, a bone softening disease that causes poor growth, muscle pain and weakness and severe bowing of the legs.

However, more than 85% of girls and 60% of boys ages 9-18 fail to get their recommended 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day. Drinking soda, caffeinated beverages, smoking and drinking alcohol will affect how the body absorbs calcium. A good way to ensure your child gets enough calcium and Vitamin D in their diet is by taking Calcium supplements. Most calcium supplements come fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also very important to the body because it helps with the body’s absorption with calcium.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children who are:

· 1 – 3 years old: 500 milligrams of calcium daily (approx 2 servings of milk)

· 4 – 8 years old: 800 milligrams of calcium daily (approx 3 servings of milk)

· 9 – 18 years old: 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily (approx 4 servings of milk)

Foods that are good sources of calcium include:

* low fat plain yogurt: 300-450mg per serving (1 cup)
* american cheese: 350mg per serving (2 oz)
* cow's milk (either whole milk or low fat milk): 300mg per serving (1 cup)
* calcium fortified soy milk, rice milk, or goat's milk: 300mg per serving (1 cup)
* calcium fortified orange juice: 300mg per serving (1 cup)
* cheddar cheese: 300mg per serving (1.5 oz)
* cooked dried white beans: 161mg per serving (1 oz)
* dried figs: 169mg per serving (10 figs)
* spinach: 120mg per serving (1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked)
* soft serve ice cream: 118mg per serving (1/2 cup)
* oranges: 50mg per serving (1 medium orange)
* instant oatmeal: 100mg (1 packet)
* sweet potatoes: 44mg per serving (1/2 cup mashed)
* broccoli: 35mg per serving (1 1/2 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked)

Any of these foods mentioned above or meals that contain these foods are good ways to get calcium. However, if your child is picky and do not like milk, cheese, or yogurt, calcium supplements are an easy way to give them the nutrients they need. Taking multivitamin pills provide only limited amounts of calcium, not enough to fulfill the daily requirements. Two good children’s vitamins and supplements websites are www.buychildrensvitamins.com and www.buykidsvitamins.com. They sell a variety of multivitamins and also specific vitamins and supplements catered to your child’s needs. They also have a Learning Center page that includes healthy tips, facts and articles about children’s health.

Resources used:
http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/nutrition/calcium.html
http://pediatrics.about.com/od/calcium/a/05_calcium_req.htm

Author's Bio: 

I am from Nutragroup, an online retailer for vitamins and health supplements. Visit us at www.nutragroup.com for more information regarding our websites, products,and general health information.