Calcium- an essential mineral for bone strength in growing kids! It is found in many foods and makes bones and teeth healthier and stronger. Besides, it performs several other functions in the body such as heart health, muscle contraction, and nerve stimulation.
On average a growing kid needs 2-4 servings (700 mg to 1300 mg) of calcium daily, depending on his age. Inadequate calcium intake or calcium deficiency leads to severe health issues such as osteoporosis. The situation is quite dire in Pakistan where we have the highest number of kids with malnutrition as compared to other countries.
Choosing the right food for your kids in the right portion is also crucial to meet calcium requirements. Here is a list of ten Calcium-Rich foods for kids, that will surely help you to choose the right food for your kid.
Even though we may get small amounts of calcium from multiple sources, but the real dose comes from dairy products. Milk, yogurt, and cheese all, three are the best natural sources of calcium.
1 cup of cow milk, one cup of yogurt, and 1 1/2 ounce of natural cheese have the almost same amount of calcium that is 300 mg. Full fat and skimmed milk both have the same amount of calcium. However, experts recommend low-fat milk and yogurt for kids under the age of two.
Mix and match these dairy items with fruits and different cereals, and here you go. You have saved your child from calcium deficiency!
What if your child is not a dairy lover? No need to worry at all. We have orange juice as the second calcium-rich food on our list. Almost all the kids love the tangy flavor of the fortified orange juice.
Moreover, it will give your child 300 mg of calcium per serving (8oz and fortified). Most of the fortified juices have added calcium based on the needs of adults. So read the labels carefully. You can also offer fresh oranges to your kids. A fresh orange contains 50gm of calcium. To meet the daily intake of calcium, give your kids fresh orange juice from freshly squeezed oranges.
There is a long list of vegetables that are rich in calcium. Among them, all the green leafy vegetables contain an incredible amount of calcium and are considered as a rich source of calcium.
Collard green, Spinach, peas, sweet potato, broccoli, turnip greens, mustard greens, butternut squash, and the list goes on.
From green, dark, leafy vegetables your child may get 99 mg of calcium per 100 gm serving. We know it’s a bit tricky to offer veggies to kids, they like them less often. Still, we suggest offering them veggies in meals from the very beginning. Disguise the veggies and their taste by making mixed vegetables, curries, fried veggies, baked, or sometimes, pizzas and patties with them. Chop them very fine to make them unnoticeable.
Nuts and Seeds
Almond, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, and tahini paste all are rich sources of calcium in nuts and seeds category.
However, almond, among all, is the highest in calcium. Raw or roasted, a third of a cup of almonds has about 110 mg of calcium. Give your kids a handful of them or sprinkle in their meals, the choice is yours!
Among seeds, 15 gm of sesame seeds contains 22 mg of calcium. Add sesame seeds in a variety of sweets and desserts or you can simply offer sesame seed laddu as a snack to your kids. And let them enjoy the calcium-rich treat!
Some excellent sources of calcium come from seafood such as Tuna, Trout, Shrimp, etc. they give ample quantity of calcium that is required in the growth years of your child.
You can also buy Salmon with bones in canned form. Mash them with bones and make nuggets or use them to prepare curry or wraps.
3 oz of canned Salmon with bones can give 180 mg of estimated calcium.
Another food option loaded with calcium is soy. The good thing is it is available in different forms like soy milk, soy yogurt, and tofu. Soy milk is also suitable for the kids with lactose intolerance.
Add different soy products in your kid’s daily diet making delicious dishes suitable to his age. Along with calcium, soy is also rich in fiber, iron, and minerals. A half-cup of boiled soy can give your child approximately 100 mg of calcium.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are calcium-rich doses. White beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans are the best sources of calcium. You can prepare a variety of mouth-watering dishes with them. Make lentils soups, prepare curries, or offer cooked beans with rice and observe what combination your little one likes the most.
Homemade or ready-to-eat, in both forms, cereals are a good source of calcium. Many ready-to-eat fortified kinds of cereal are available in the market, such as corn flakes, rice flakes, etc. which are rich in fiber and calcium. They are handy and as well as have added calcium.
You can also make some home-made baked brown rice cookies or prepare no-bake energy bars with Bajra, and offer some crunchy nutritious snacks to your kid.
Apart from providing a high portion of proteins and vitamins, eggs also have a good amount of calcium. They add in a lot in your kid’s bone, teeth, and brain growth.
However, some kids may develop allergies to eggs. And others can’t tolerate the taste. Taste can be made acceptable by trying a variety of dishes, such as pancakes, French toast, etc.
Experts recommend not to give the egg to your child before s/he turns 9 months old. When you introduce egg to your baby, start with a small portion, and check for the allergies as well.
Fortified foods are the foods that have added amounts of nutrients in them. Many calcium-rich fortified foods are available in the market in delicious taste. Such as juices, breakfast cereals, bottled water, and energy bars, etc.
Having said that these kinds of foods have added calcium in them, experts recommend checking the labels carefully before consuming them. Moreover, the human body cannot absorb the higher amount of calcium intake, therefore fortified food should be taken as supplements, not regularly like a natural source of calcium.