Why Calcium is an Important Mineral for Bone Health
Date: Thursday, Sep 24, 2020
As they grow, children's nutritional needs cannot be met by milk alone and, therefore, they need solid food too, for their healthy development.
Most of us know that milk is high in calcium, and that we need calcium for our bone health. But what about babies and young children? How important is calcium for their health, and how can they get more of this? Read on, and learn all you need to know about the importance of calcium for your baby.
How does calcium benefit babies?
Calcium is an important mineral for your baby's bone health. Almost all (around 99 per cent) of our bodies' calcium is stored in our bones and teeth.
Beyond offering benefits to your little one’s bones, calcium also keeps their nerves and muscles working,1 and supports heart health by regulating blood pressure.2 It also plays a role in maintaining their immune system3 and increasing energy production4.
If your kid doesn’t get enough calcium, the calcium that's stored in their bones will be diverted to other parts of their body, leading to weakened and brittle bones. Young children who don't get enough calcium are also at increased risk at getting rickets, a bone-softening disease that causes poor growth, muscle pain and severe bowing of the legs.5
How much calcium should your child get?
In Singapore, the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) – the recommended daily levels of calcium to meet the needs of nearly all healthy individuals – is 500mg for children from one to three years old, and 600mg for kids from four to six years of age.6
Where can your child get calcium from?
Children get most of their calcium from milk, followed by other dairy foods such as yoghurt and cheese. For children older than one year, certain milk formulas contain both calcium and nutrients that help to absorb it: sn-2 palmitate, for instance, has been shown to help the body better absorb and use calcium.7
Apart from dairy products, moms can count on other calcium-rich foods for their kids.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, bok choy, spinach, broccoli and Chinese cabbage are also good sources of calcium. Another calcium-rich winner: fish with edible bones – such as sardines and ikan bilis (dried anchovies). Singaporean mums love to give their babies ikan bilis powder, which can be added to baby's meals once they're on solids. (Just make sure your baby isn't allergic to fish.)
Other calcium-rich options include tofu and soybeans, fortified whole grain cereal, almonds, chickpeas and calcium-fortified orange juice. These are great options for your child if they can't eat dairy.
Once your baby starts on solids, it's best to feed them a variety of foods that are rich in calcium so that they don’t get just it from one source. Also, their body will absorb calcium better when it's ingested at separate times in a day and not just all at once. So spread out the calcium love in their meals throughout the day.8
The role of vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D go hand-in-hand, as this vitamin helps your body to absorb calcium. From the age of three months to five years, the RDA for vitamin D is 10mcg or 400 international units (IU) per day.9
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, so try to get your baby into the sun (for a few minutes at a time) whenever possible – this shouldn't be difficult with the tropical climate in Singapore. Vitamin D is only made by the body when the skin is exposed to the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of sunlight, so ensure that your child's bare skin gets some exposure to the sun.
Foods that contain vitamin D include egg yolks and oily fish (such as salmon, tuna, sardine and mackerel). Some brands of milk, cereals, yoghurt and orange juice are also fortified with vitamin D so give those to your child if possible.
Illuma Stage 3 Growing-Up Formula Milk Powder is suitable for children from one year and above. This advanced growing-up formula contains a unique combination of sn-2 palmitate and A2 β-casein, offering a range of nutritional and gastrointestinal benefits for your little one.
For more tips, Contact Us to chat with our friendly Club Illume consultants.
- 1. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2007-03-calcium-life-death-nerve-cells.html
- 2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17685082/
- 3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214111608.htm
- 4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170307130845.htm
- 5. https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/72773
- 6. https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/192/recommended_dietary_allowances
- 7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10539755/
- 8. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/
- 9. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/