• Nutrition for Toddlers: Calcium

    Posted on February 3, 2012 by in Nutrition For Toddlers
    Turnip greens provide calcium

    Turnip greens provide calcium


    It is commonly known that calcium is required for strong bones and teeth, but it is little acknowledged that calcium is actually required by every cell in the body to function in a healthful way: from bones to nerves and muscles to blood, calcium serves a significant purpose throughout the body.


    Calcium in the Body

    According to current recommendations by Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, toddlers (ages 1-3 years) need about 500 milligrams of calcium per day; young children ages 4-8 need 800 milligrams.  Children’s bodies can absorb about 75 percent of the calcium from their diet and various factors can influence the body’s ability to transfer calcium into the blood.

    Oxalates – Some foods are high in oxalates, which bind with calcium and interfere with the body’s ability to absorb it.  Foods such as chocolate (think chocolate milk), asparagus, and spinach are high in oxalates and consumption of these foods at the same time as calcium-rich foods may inhibit calcium absorption.

    Vitamin C – Vitamin C improves the absorption of calcium; thus consumption of calcium-fortified orange juice is a good non-dairy source of calcium.

    Exercise – An active lifestyle not only builds muscle, it helps build bones.  Making sure your family maintains and active lifestyle will help with calcium absorption.

    Sodium – Sodium and chloride, the ingredients in table salt, increase urinary excretion of calcium from the body.

    Vitamin D -Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium from the intestines.  The majority of Americans suffer from various extents of deficiency in vitamin D.  In addition to diet, vitamin D can be obtain through exposure to sunlight (approximately 30 minutes per day).  Have a conversation with your healthcare practitioner regarding the need for vitamin D supplements.

    Protein – Too much protein in the diet decreases calcium absorption.  As the body burns protein for energy, it produces sulfate, which increases the body’s excretion of calcium.  Children ages one to six require about 16-24 grams of protein per day.

    Phosphorous – Phosphorous or phosphoric acid is an ingredient found in many sodas and processed foods and decreases calcium absorption: a 12-ounce serving of soda can rob the body of 100 milligrams of calcium.

    Sources of Calcium

    Food Serving Size Calcium in Milligrams
    Dairy Sources of Calcium
    Yogurt, non-fat, plain 1 cup 450
    Yogurt, low-fat, plain 1 cup 400
    Yogurt, non-fat, fruit-flavored 1 cup 300
    Cow milk, low-fat 1 cup 300
    Cheddar cheese 1 ounce 200
    Cottage cheese 1 cup 155
    Goat milk 1 cup 326
    Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
    Hijiki 1 cup 648
    Turnip greens, cooked 450
    Sardines, with bones 3 ounces  371
    Collard greens, cooked 1 cup 358
    Orange juice, calcium fortified 1 cup 300
    Figs 10 medium 270
    Tofu 3 ounces 190
    Blackstrap molasses  1 Tablespoon 172
    White beans, cooked 1 cup 160
    Figs 5 whole 135
    Kale, chopped 1/2 cup 90
    Carob powder 1/4 cup 89
    Non-Dairy Milk Sources of Calcium
    Almond milk
    Rice milk
    Soy milk  1 cup  301
    Hemp milk
    Coconut milk  1 cup  33


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