Every growing child has changing needs of nourishment, and these must be met optimally, to ensure best health for them all their life. Besides brain and tissue development, the largest need of the body in these tender years is health for bones, teeth, nails, hair and muscle. If there is inadequate supply of vitamins and minerals at this stage then the body goes weak causing early fatigue, exhaustion, lack of flexibility, muscle cramping, joint aches, poor posture development, weak spinal chord and various other critical conditions putting the body at risk to easy fractures and poor neuromuscular co-ordination. The mineral required in largest quantities by the body for combating all of these conditions is undoubtedly Calcium.
The fact is, head to toe our body is dependent on Calcium for optimum growth, performance and strength. Most of us try to meet our children’s needs with milk and dairy products, fish, eggs, legumes, beans etc. But with adulteration, busy lifestyles, poor appetite, lack of domestic help and also dealing with demanding eaters, in most cases, it is not possible to meet these needs on a daily basis.
Consistent lack of sufficient Calcium intake can get your child exhausted, weak, irritable, & affect their thinking process. Hence, one must not only ensure Calcium rich foods in their daily diets but also include a healthy Calcium rich milk fortified with nourishing health food drinks which can be added to milk, shakes or used for making yummy treats such as homemade ice creams too, at the same time providing the necessary mineral in sufficient quantities.
Calcium Requirements and Sources
The average Calcium intake in growing years for children ranges from 1000- 1500mg per day.
Top 10 sources of food for this Calcium intake are as below-
- Milk and other dairy produce along with the right health food drink
- Soya and Tofu
- Fish & seafood
- Kale & Dark green Leaves
- Nuts and Oilseeds such as sesame & sunflower
- Sweet potatoes
However, most Indian families depend mostly on milk to supply calcium to their kids. It’s a fact that the combination of all of the above may not be met due to various reasons- lack of availability, affordability, vegetarianism, lack of taste etc. So we are focusing on only 1 out of 10 food groups which is already a poor status to begin with.
Another point to note here is that besides, ensuring how much calcium we are serving our kids everyday, how much is being retained and absorbed by their body is the real question. Because, it is this absorption that really matters and what your child will actually benefit from. Adding options such as tea & coffee powder to your child’s milk can reduce the absorption of calcium present in their cup due to the tannins and caffeine present in them and could leave your child calcium deficient. Add your health food drinks wisely since they can be an important source of calcium and protein. These nutrients strengthen bones and muscles and can help stave off hunger. We need to balance taste with health for our growing kids because when it comes to them there can be no compromise!