Recent studies in the US indicate that as many as 50 percent of all children are not getting enough calcium in their diet. This could be due to the rise in dairy allergies or just the general reduced milk intake of many children.
So how much calcium does your child need?
Well, that depends on their age. Your child's need for calcium increase as they grow. Here are the guidelines:
Best sources of calcium
Milk is the best source of calcium, because it also contains vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium. An 8-ounce glass of milk has 300 mg of calcium, and one cup of yogurt has 400 mg of calcium. If your child is not a milk drinker or has a dairy allergy, there are plenty of other food sources for calcium. They include:
Some packaged foods, such as waffles, juice, and Popsicles are calcium-fortified. Read the labels. Foods labeled "High in Calcium", "Rich in Calcium" or "Excellent Source of Calcium," have at least 200mg or more.
Foods labeled "Calcium Enriched", "Calcium- Fortified" or have "More Calcium," will have about 100mg of calcium.
What should you do
Add up your child's calcium intake for an average day. Monitor it, by recalculating it once a month.
Make adjustments to your child's diet to increase calcium-rich foods at the critical ages of 4 and 9.
Try to make sure your child has something containing calcium at every meal. If your child is coming up short, try a calcium supplement, such as Tums, Viactiv or One A Day Kids Scooby Doo Calcium Chews. (some of these contain dry milk solids, so read the labels).