Calcium For Kids
Posted on November 01 2021,
Calcium is a mineral that contributes to the health of the human body. It is found in some foods, available in the form of dietary supplements, and a component in some drugs, such as antacids.
What does calcium do? The human body needs this mineral primarily to support bone health. Almost 99% of calcium is stored in your teeth and bones, where it supports their functions and structure. Calcium also plays an essential role in vascular dilation and contraction (the widening and narrowing of blood vessels), nerve transmission, hormone secretion, and muscle functions. Additionally, this mineral is important for maintaining healthy communication between your brain and other body parts. (1)
Deficiency of calcium affects several functions in the human body, contributing to interruption of brain activity, dental and bone weakness, soft bones, and osteoporosis. In case of severe deficiency, supplements are recommended with consultation from your doctor. (1)
The human body does not produce calcium on its own, so it is mandatory to consume an adequate amount of calcium through diet. It is important to know that vitamin D is also required by your body to properly absorb calcium, which is one of many reasons that a nutritious diet full of vitamins and minerals is optimal for your wellbeing. (2)
How Does Calcium Function in Your Child’s Body?
In healthy children, calcium comprises almost 2% of their total body weight. Calcium is crucial for the proper growth and development of your child. Several studies have revealed that, as your child grows, their need for calcium increases. (2) It is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining strong teeth and bones. In combination with other minerals, like phosphorus, calcium improves the resilience of your kid’s gums and teeth. This is why your toothpaste is infused with these minerals.
Additionally, an optimum amount of calcium in your kid’s blood serum aids in regulating muscle contraction, nerve stimulation and blood pressure. Calcium in the blood serum is strongly regulated, and the body uses bone tissues to gather this mineral. (3) The remaining calcium in your child’s body is stored in the teeth and bones. Bones undergo the process of remodeling, with continuous deposition and resorption of calcium into the new bone structure. The balance between bone deposition and resorption changes with growing age, and this process is heightened during childhood and adolescence before equalizing in middle adulthood. (4)
Why Do Children Need Calcium?
You can think of your child’s bones as banks for calcium. Your children need regular deposits of calcium for their bones. Without adequate calcium, other body parts will start to withdraw calcium from the bones to fulfill their needs. With ongoing calcium deficiency, your kid can experience several bone problems, including bone loss. (4)
Calcium provides several health benefits to children. Some of them include:
- Promotes bone strength
- Maintains the activity of heart muscles
- Supports dental health
- Promotes proper growth and development
- Regulates the nerve signaling
Promotes bone strength: Calcium is stored in the form of calcium phosphate in the bones of your child’s legs, arms, and skeletal muscles of the spinal cord. The research has depicted that calcium is necessary to maintain bone health for people of all ages. Bones are the vital connective tissues found in your child’s body, which provide stability and structure to the body. Additionally, bones protect the internal organs of your child, such as lungs, kidneys, heart, brain, liver, and stomach. (5)
Maintains the activity of heart muscles: The heart is the central organ of the human body. It has an intrinsic network of muscles that work 24/7 to pump blood in and out of the heart. A study has found that the filaments present in the cardiac muscles require calcium ions to become charged and regulate depolarization and repolarization. These processes are required for the proper relaxation and contraction of cardiac muscles. Thus, calcium helps to maintain heart health in children. (2)
Supports dental health: Calcium salts are mandatory to maintain gums and teeth health in children. Calcium is a hardening mineral, which supports the strengthening of jawbones in kids. Research has shown that calcium also protects your child’s teeth and gums from external physical damage and the attack of pathogenic microbes. (6)
Promotes proper growth and development: Calcium is crucial to promote proper growth and development in children as it maintains bone health. One study has revealed that children who consume primarily a plant-based diet that is high in dietary calcium have faster height growth than those who do not. Another study has revealed that calcium intake below 300 mg per day can lead to shorter height in kids. (7)
Regulates the nerve signaling: Nerve cells, or neurons, are specialized cells in your child’s brain responsible for transmitting vital information, including the transportation of nutrients in the blood, variation of body temperature, and response to pain. In the form of calcium ions, calcium is an integral part of this nerve signaling pathway, ensuring the smooth transmission of nerve impulses and contributing to harmony in your child’s body. (6)
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency?
Calcium deficiency is common in children. Health experts believe that kids who do not consume an adequate amount of calcium through their diet will not grow to their potential height as adults. It is essential to ensure that your kid gets an adequate amount of calcium through diet or supplements.
Common reasons for calcium deficiency include the following: (8)
- Poor dietary intake of calcium
- Some genetic factors
- Inability to digest foods that are rich in calcium, such as milk
- Use of medicines that reduce the absorption of calcium
- Hormonal changes, particularly in females
The common signs and symptoms of calcium deficiency in children include:
- Muscle problems
- Extreme fatigue
- Skin and nail problems
- Dental problems
Muscle problems: If your child often complains about their muscles, then he might be suffering from calcium deficiency. The research has demonstrated that children with calcium deficiency experience muscle cramps, spasms, aches, pain in the arms and thighs while walking, and tingling and numbness in the arms, hands, legs, feet, as well as around the mouth. Health experts claim that untreated calcium deficiency can result in more extreme sensations that lead to arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat), convulsions, and even death. (7)
Extreme fatigue: Lack of calcium can lead to extreme fatigue in children that includes the feeling of sluggishness, low energy levels, and insomnia (lack of proper sleep). The research has revealed that fatigue caused by calcium deficiency can also include dizziness, lightheadedness, and brain fog (this condition is characterized by confusion, inability to focus, and forgetfulness). (9)
Skin and nail problems: Long-term calcium deficiency in children can affect their skin and nail health. One study has found that children with calcium deficiency have dry skin, coarse hair, brittle nails, eczema (inflammation of the skin that results in dry patches and itching), alopecia (hair loss), and psoriasis (a skin disorder). (9)
Dental problems: When your child’s body has low calcium levels, it takes the mineral from sources that also need calcium, like the teeth. This condition results in several dental problems, like:
- Brittle teeth
- Irritated gums
- Tooth decay
- Tooth roots become weak
A deficiency of this mineral has also been found to interfere with tooth development in infants. (5)
Irritability: Calcium is important for maintaining normal brain functioning in children. Research has depicted that a lack of this mineral in children can result in several mood disorders, irritability, and even depression in kids. If you observe these symptoms, it is suggested that you consult with your child’s doctor about treating your child for nutrient deficiency. (9)
How Much Calcium Does Your Kid Need per Day?
Dosing recommendations for calcium are provided in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). DRI is the optimal amount of nutrients which a person needs per day. (10)
It is vital to provide an adequate amount of calcium to your children to meet their daily requirements. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this mineral is provided in milligrams (mg).
For children, the recommended doses for calcium are provided below: (1)
|Age||Recommended daily amount in micrograms (mcg)|
|0-6 months||200 mcg|
|7-12 months||260 mcg|
|1-3 years||700 mcg|
|4-8 years||1000 mcg|
|9-13 years||1300 mcg|
|14-18 years||1000 mcg|
|19+ years||1000 mcg|
Should You Give Calcium Supplements to Your Kids?
Children need more calcium as they get older to support their growing bones. It is ideal to try to meet their calcium needs through their everyday diet of nutritious foods. Otherwise, you might consider calcium supplements to meet your kid’s needs after first consulting with your kid’s doctor. (10)
Which Foods Contain Calcium?
Major dietary sources of calcium include milk, cheese, and yogurt. Non-dairy sources of calcium include vegetables like broccoli, Chinese cabbage, and kale. Spinach also has a good amount of calcium, however its bioavailability is very low. Grains are deficient in calcium, which is why they are often fortified with this mineral. Other foods that are fortified with calcium are beverages, fruit juices, cereals, and tofu.
Below are several foods that contain a good amount of calcium. (1)
|Food Name||Serving Size||Milligrams (mg) per serving|
|Plain, unsweetened yogurt||8 oz||416 mg|
|Calcium fortified orange juice||1 cup||350 mg|
|Sardines||3 oz||325 mg|
|Milk||1 cup||299 mg|
|Buttermilk||1 cup||284 mg|
|Fortified breakfast cereals||1 cup||130 mg|
|Boiled turnip||1/2 cup||99 mg|
|Cooked kale||1/2 cup||95 mg|
|Chia seeds||1 tbsp||76 mg|
|Raw kale||1 cup||24 mg|
|Raw broccoli||1 cup||20 mg|
|Regular cream cheese||1 tbsp||13 mg|
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Calcium?
Mineral accumulation in the human body can lead to several health issues, and the intake of calcium through a diet of natural foods has not been found to cause any side effects in children. However, dietary supplements of calcium can lead to digestive issues, such as constipation, gas, and bloating in kids.
Several studies have demonstrated that excessive intake of calcium in the form of supplements can also enhance the risk of stroke and heart attacks in adults. Another study done at Johns Hopkins Medicine has found that excessive intake of calcium supplements can enhance the risk of plaque formation in the arteries that lead to heart damage. (11) Research has revealed that hypercalcemia (abnormally high levels of calcium) can create kidney stones, weaken your child’s bones, and can alter their brain and heart functions. (10)
If you think your child is experiencing a deficiency of calcium, it is important to determine the appropriate dosage with your child’s doctor to prevent any of the above risks and side effects from occurring.
Calcium is an essential mineral for your child because it performs several important functions in the body. It promotes proper growth and development, maintains bone and dental health, and regulates muscle contraction and nerve signals. On the other hand, the deficiency of this mineral can enhance the risk of bone, teeth and muscle issues and interfere with brain functioning. Major dietary sources of this mineral include milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified products. Non-dairy sources include kale, cabbage, and broccoli. In the case of severe deficiency, calcium supplements may be an option for your child with the approval of your child’s doctor.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.