How much calcium do kids need?

Calcium plays an important role in bone, nervous system and muscle health. It’s particularly important for some age groups that have greater than average calcium requirements including young children and teenagers. This is because calcium is an essential mineral for forming strong bones and teeth during childhood and adolescence. When kids don’t consume enough calcium, they have an increased risk of developing rickets, a condition causing soft bones, poor growth and bowing of the legs.

The Australian Nutrition Survey in 1995 shows that around 70% of children in Australia don’t receive the adequate recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium For your child to obtain the RDI for calcium ensure they have the following amounts:

  • Children aged one to three years, 500mg per day
  • Children aged four to eight years, 700mg per day
  • Children aged nine to eleven years, 1000mg per day
  • Children aged 12 and 13, and adolescents from 14 to 18 years of age, 1300mg of calcium per day

It’s not as difficult as you may think to ensure your child receives an adequate amount of calcium in their daily diet. Milk and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are the best sources of calcium. Following are some examples of good quality calcium food sources:

  • A glass of milk contains 240mg of calcium per 200ml
  • Low fat fruit yoghurt contains 340mg per 200g
  • Cheddar cheese contains approximately 250mg calcium per 30g serve

A three year old, for example, may therefore only need one glass of milk and a serving of yoghurt to fulfill their calcium needs for the whole day.