The greatest amount of bone tissue grows during childhood and adolescence as the skeleton expands in size and density. In addition to requiring a great deal of calcium, the young body absorbs calcium more effectively.
Some of the most common sources of calcium are from dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese. Other sources include calcium-fortified soy milk and juices, fish and dark green, leafy vegetables.
For calcium to be effective in bone growth and development, it is also important that children get enough vitamin D. This can be done through careful sun exposure and eating vitamin D-rich foods such as fortified milk and milk products, cod liver oil, red meat, eggs, mushrooms and some fatty fish.
Calcium and vitamin-D supplements are also important to consider, to ensure children, especially those with certain chronic conditions, are getting enough bone-boosting nutrients. Below are Dr. Agrawal’s general recommendations:
Age 7 and younger
Calcium intake: 250 mg twice daily
Vitamin D3 intake: 250 IUs twice daily
Calcium intake: 500 mg twice daily
Vitamin D3 intake: 500 IUs twice daily
Age 14 and older
Calcium intake: 600 mg twice daily
Vitamin D3 intake: 2000 IUs twice daily
In addition to a calcium and vitamin D-rich diet, children should participate in physical activity, advises Dr. Agrawal. Parents should help their children find activities and sports they enjoy, so they’ll continue to participate in them,” says Dr. Agrawal.