Is Your Child Getting Enough Calcium for Strong, Healthy Teeth?
Thanks to the “Got Milk?” campaign, most of us are aware of the role calcium plays in strengthening our bones and teeth. Children need even more calcium in their diet to help build strong bones and teeth, but many of them still fall short of their daily requirements.
Why is calcium so important for healthy teeth?
Pre-adolescent boys and girls absorb calcium more efficiently than adults do. It’s essential that children and pre-teens consume enough calcium-rich foods while they’re young so they can better ward off osteoporosis and tooth decay later in life.
Without enough calcium and vitamin D, the vitamin that helps our bodies absorb calcium properly, children may suffer from rickets, a disease characterized by stunted growth, weak bones, sore muscles, and bow legs. Children who fail to ingest enough calcium may also experience abnormal tooth decay and frequent cavities.
How much calcium do my children need?
Children require different amounts of calcium at different stages of their lives. The first six months, they should have at least 200mg per day, and when they reach six months of age, that number rises to 260mg a day.
The next three years of their life, children should consume around 700mg of calcium every day, and that number increases by 300mg when they turn four and then again when they turn nine.
Can my children get enough calcium without consuming dairy products?
While milk, cheese, and yogurt generally contain calcium in high doses, it can be found in fresh produce, nuts and seeds, legumes, and fish. If your child is sensitive to dairy products, you can substitute them with dark green leafy vegetables, oranges and prunes, tofu, salmon, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, and beans of several varieties.
However, usually even a healthy diet full of the foods listed above still won’t provide enough calcium. In that case, you might consider giving your children calcium supplements or fortified breakfast cereals to compensate for the difference.