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Why Calcium is Essential for Childhood Growth

By Jill Feilmeier on April 8, 2014 in Kid's Health

Mother walking with her kids

Your mom gave you a lot of wise advice when you were growing up, but one bit of wisdom holds especially true: Drink your milk!

Milk is a good source of calcium and an important nutrient that helps with bone density. Nearly 100 percent of the body's calcium reserves are stored in bones and teeth, which must continually replace calcium that is lost through the growth of skin, nails and hair. A good supply of calcium is especially important for growing children. Because bones are actively growing during childhood, the amount of calcium needed increases as the size and thickness of bones increase. Bones also absorb calcium more effectively during childhood than any other stage in life, so it's important for kids to consume extra calcium to keep their bones strong and healthy into adulthood.

How much calcium is enough? The National Institute of Health recommends the following:

• Infants up to age 6 months: 2/3 serving a day (210 mg total)
• Infants from ages 6 months to 1 year: 1 serving a day (270 mg total)
• Children ages 1 to 3 years: 2 servings a day (500 mg total)
• Children ages 4 to 8 years: 3 servings a day (800 mg total)
• Children ages 9 to 18 years: 4 servings a day (1,300 mg total)

For reference, one cup (8 oz) of milk contains 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium. In addition to dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, other good sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables, salmon and soybeans.

So, drink up (or eat up) – and encourage your kids to get their fill of calcium-rich foods and drinks too. They'll thank you later!