How Much Calcium Does My Child Need?

Calcium is an important mineral that not only supports the growth of your child’s bones, but it is also essential for the healthy development of your child’s teeth. Your child needs calcium to strengthen their teeth and protect them from developing cavities by neutralizing acids that cause tooth decay. 

Why Is Phosphorus Needed?

Calcium is necessary for jawbones to be healthy and strong enough to hold teeth in place. However, phosphorus is also required to maximize the bone-strengthening benefits of calcium. Children’s teeth need adequate amounts of both calcium and phosphorus to develop properly. 

  • Phosphorus can be found in many foods, including almonds and other nuts, cereals, wheat germ, cucumbers, tomatoes, citrus fruit, grapes, eggs, fish, meat, poultry, and soya beans. 

Why Is Vitamin D Essential?

For calcium to work effectively, it is also crucial that your child gets sufficient vitamin D. This key vitamin regulates the body’s balance of calcium and phosphorus and promotes the absorption of these two minerals.

  • The best sources of vitamin D include oily fish (e.g., sardines, tuna, mackerel), egg yolks, fortified foods, and sunlight. 

What Is the Right Amount of Calcium for My Child?

How much calcium your child needs is dependent upon age. Here’s what the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends on a daily basis:

  • Infants up to age 6 months: 200 mg
  • Infants from age 7 months to 1 year: 260 mg
  • Children ages 1 to 3 years: 700 mg
  • Children ages 4 to 8 years: 1,000 mg
  • Children ages 9 to 13 years: 1,300 mg
  • Teens ages 14 to 18 years: 1,300 mg

What Are the Best Sources of Calcium?

Dairy products (e.g., milk, cheese, and yogurt) are some of the best sources of calcium. However, many other food groups are also rich in calcium:

  • Fish with soft bones that you eat (e.g., canned salmon and sardines) (181 mg)
  • Fruits – oranges, kiwis, and dates (23-57 mg)
  • Green vegetables – broccoli, kale, and collard greens (21-100 mg)
  • Calcium-fortified foods – orange juice and some breakfast cereals – check the ingredients (30-261 mg)

How Can I Get More Calcium Into My Child’s Diet?

If you have a child with definite eating likes and dislikes, here’s how to “smuggle” more calcium into their diet.

  • Make parfaits layered with yogurt, whole-grain cereal, and fruit.
  • Provide smoothies made with milk, almond milk, or calcium-fortified soy, and fresh fruit.
  • Add a drop of chocolate or strawberry syrup to regular milk. 
  • Sprinkle cheese on top of meals and snacks.
  • Include some white beans in favorite soups.
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds on vegetables and add them to baked goodies.
  • Serve cut-up vegetables with hummus.
  • When making a veggie stir-fry, add some tofu.
  • Choose almond butter over peanut butter.
  • Top cereals and salads with slivered almonds and chickpeas.
  • Sneak dark green, leafy vegetables into casseroles and soups. 

How Do I Know if My Child Is Getting Enough Calcium?

If you have concerns that your child is not getting sufficient calcium, talk to your dentist about calcium supplements. If you live in or near Mt. Pleasant, SC, Old Mt. Pleasant Dentistry is committed to educating parents about the oral health of their children. Please contact us, and we’ll be happy to help you.