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Nutritional Health|20 January 2023

Add this calcium-packed diet to your kids’ nutrition chart

Consulting Medical Nutritionist with an experience of more than 14 years.

Here’s why skimping on the mineral is a big no-no, and how you can include it in meals 

Children are usually tiny tornados — full of beans and curiosity, for which they need a lot of strength and stamina. But, who’s not familiar with the daily tussle of giving them sources of energy: healthy food and that glass of milk! So, why do parents insist that children guzzle down the liquid dairy? Because it’s the go-to calcium-rich food for kids that’s essential for their rapid growth and bone development. 

During their growing years, between 9 to 18, children’s calcium requirement is at its peak as that’s the period their bones and muscles develop — and the only window you get to provide them with the crucial mineral. Its inadequacy can have significant consequences throughout one’s lifetime. 

Time for some trivia on calcium and what its lack can do besides preventing strong bones and teeth. 

KYC — Know your Calcium 
Calcium is vital for blood clotting, muscular contraction, regulating heartbeat, nerve activity and hormone releaseBones are the calcium bank and store 99% of the mineralThe remaining 1% is distributed across other tissues, including blood and muscle Brain needs calcium to communicate with the rest of the bodyBoys from 9 to 13, and girls from 9 to 18, are at more risk of becoming calcium deficientTeen girls may need extra calcium through food or supplements, despite getting sufficient nutrition Lack of calcium in childhood may make your children more vulnerable to dental issues, fractures, and bone diseases such as osteoporosis as they age

Sources of Calcium-rich food for kids

It’s imperative to give children enough calcium daily and ensure their physical activity so they become strong adults. 

How much Calcium do children need?

When it comes to nutritious meals, one cannot take the one-size-fits-all approach. Your child’s requirements will depend on their age. It’s also best to consult with a professional dietician or nutritionist about the right quantity and foods you can include in your kid’s meals. 

AgeQuantity Needed Per DayServings Recommended
4 to 8 years1000 mg2 to 3
9 to 181300 mg3 to 4

You can choose foods from natural sources, which is the most straightforward approach to ensure your child gets enough calcium. Add these to your kitchen shelves and refrigerator:

  • Milk with Bournvita, cheese, curd
  • Tofu, paneer
  • Almonds and dried figs
  • Fortified plant-based milk, such as soya milk
  • Chickpeas and lentils, amaranth, chia seeds 
  • Peanuts, sesame seeds

Combine various vegetables and other calcium-rich ingredients to bring their meals closer to being nutrient-rich, as these provide other elements, including protein, vitamins A and D, which are an equally crucial part of kids’ nutrition. 

Calcium Absorption is as Important as Intake

Nutrition for kids does not just involve consuming it but also absorbing it. So, even if you give them the ideal amount of calcium-rich food, they need vitamin D to absorb it better and reach the necessary areas to form strong bones. Vitamin D jump-starts the circulation of the calcium deposited in the bones and assists in moving it through the intestines so that it can be absorbed. Usually, while checking for calcium deficiency, doctors would also ascertain a healthy range of vitamin D.

Besides vitamin D, foods with vitamin C, such as oranges, and good fats (avocado, cheese) also enhance calcium absorption in the body. So, give your child these things every day. At the same time, combining iron and fibre with calcium hinders its absorption; so, avoid giving these together. 

Vegetables and Fruits 

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help your kid’s body absorb calcium more effectively as it creates bicarbonate while breaking down and metabolising them. This process also helps prevent calcium loss. A rainbow plate regularly is a helpful option for sure! 

Snacks packed with calcium

We all know children’s fondness for snacking. Why not make use of it to infuse calcium into their diet? Working on  kids’ nutrition is worthwhile if planned well. Many resources, like some of our Indian foods and recipes, increase your child’s daily calcium consumption. 

Til Laddoo

100 grams of sesame seeds have 975 milligrams of calcium. Til is a wintertime staple in our country, and you can make treats from it, like laddoos, chikki, and revri. Making til laddoo at home is really simple and combines the benefits of coconut and sesame.

  • Dry roast til and cut dates 
  • Combine these with dried coconut, cardamom powder and dry fruits. 
  • Grind it all in the mixer and just roll those nutty laddoos. 

Paneer Bhurji

This is a saviour snack from the kids’ nutrition chart. A calcium-rich food for kids and a favourite among most of them! You can also mix veggies in it to notch up the nutrition dose. 

  • Sauté diced onion, capsicum, green peas and a bit of carrot. 
  • Add green chilly, masalas and crumbled paneer. Tadda! It’s ready. 
  • Stuff it into a roll of chapati or make a toasted sandwich. It’s going to be a hit formula.

Chickpea Chaat

Chickpea contains a decent amount of calcium and protein. You can prepare this chaat with some rajma and veggies, and we assure you that it will vanish within a few minutes. 

  • Saute boiled chickpeas and rajma 
  • Add red chilly powder, chaat masala, and salt
  • Chop tomato, onion, and cucumber. 
  • Grate beetroot and have a fistful of pomegranate ready. 
  • Top the chickpea and rajma mixture with veggies, tamarind chutney, curd, a dash of lemon, and chaat masala. 

Peanut Chikki

Absolutely handy and a lovable snack when kids want something sweet and light on the go. The calcium goodness of peanuts and the wisdom of jaggery make it both fun and nutritious.

Rajgira /Amaranth Laddo or Chikki and Much More

Amaranth is an ancient crop. However, because of its higher levels of protein, dietary fibre, calcium, iron, and magnesium compared to other grains, it has become a superfood these days.

Amaranth laddoos, chikki, puris, or halwa will provide nutrition for kids and relief from thinking about what to cook. These also have a long shelf life. So, anytime during the day, this will make a quick one for your kids.

Conclusion

Looking at the need and impact of lacking calcium in kids’ nutrition, we must ensure that this mineral takes an important place in their diet. So, you can supplement milk and Bournvita with delectable options to give your kids enough calcium.

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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