Why is calcium so important for childhood bone development?

Calcium is a mineral that’s essential for the development of healthy bones. It can’t be made in the human body, so you have to consume it in the foods you eat.1 During childhood, bones are actively growing and the amount of calcium deposited into them increases as they grow in length. Calcium is therefore extremely important for children, as they require large amounts in their daily diet to meet these increased needs.2

Ninety nine percent of calcium in the body is stored in the bones. Whenever calcium levels in the bloodstream or other tissues are low, calcium is pulled from bone tissue storage. Over time if too much calcium is taken from the bones, without being replaced by sufficient dietary intake, the bones may become weak and more prone to fractures.

Childhood is the ideal time to ‘bank’ extra calcium in the bones, as children absorb calcium more efficiently than adults.2 In fact, 40% of a person’s total lifetime bone mass is accumulated within just a three to four year period during adolescence.

Peak calcium absorption is attained at an average of 12.5 years old in girls and 14 years old in boys. This highlights the importance of optimizing dietary calcium intake during the teenage years.3