Going to the park with your kids in the sunshine and fresh air not only helps your family feel good, all the running, jumping, climbing and playing helps your kids build stronger muscles, improve coordination and build stronger bones. While they’re throwing their legs out on the swing, climbing the ladder to the slide and jumping off obstacles, they’re not only having fun but also improving their coordination skills.
Playing in the sunshine helps your kids’ bone health because they’re boosting vitamin D levels through sun exposure.
Exercise and sun smart vitamin D exposure are not the only things you can do to help your kids build stronger bones; ensuring they get enough calcium in their diet is also important.
What is calcium and why do my kids need it?
Calcium is a mineral found in food that your kids need for strong teeth and bones, healthy muscle function and healthy bone growth and development.1
How much calcium does my child need?
According to Healthdirect Australia, helping your kids get enough calcium in their diet is essential to making strong bones.2 To find out how much calcium per day your child may need based on their age, refer to the Calcium Nutrient Reference Values by the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council.3
What calcium-rich foods should my kids eat?
Calcium is commonly found in dairy foods like milk, yoghurt and cheese. You can also find calcium in fish, including canned sardines and salmon.2
My kids don’t eat dairy. So how do I get enough calcium in their diet?
If your kids can’t tolerate dairy or don’t eat animal products, you can also find calcium in firm tofu2, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale and nuts.
You can also include breakfast cereals, fruit juices and plant-based milks fortified with calcium.4
Do my kids need calcium with vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps your child’s body absorb calcium and supports their immune system. Your child can make vitamin D through the skin after sun exposure and you can also include vitamin D rich foods in the diet. Some kids might need a vitamin D supplement to boost their vitamin D levels.5 Your healthcare professional will be able to recommend whether or not this may be necessary for your child.
Vitamin D rich foods include egg yolks, liver and fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel. Fortified foods such as milk, cereals and infant formula also have vitamin D.6
How much vitamin D does my child need?
Most people get enough vitamin D from sunlight and the amount of vitamin D needed varies with age.7 To find out how much calcium per day your child may need based on their age, refer to the Vitamin D Nutrient Reference Values by the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council.8
It can be difficult for some kids to get enough vitamin D. If your child spends limited time in the sun, has darker skin that acts as a sunblock, or has a health condition that stops the body from making or absorbing vitamin D, speak to your healthcare provider for advice.9
Incuding calcium-rich foods in your kids’ diet will help them grow strong bones and teeth and support muscle function. In addition, planning family time outdoors away from screens and being physically active support bone strength through weight-bearing exercise and boosting vitamin D levels.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use.
References available on request.