Calcium is an essential mineral for children's development and growth. It's important that children are provided with a calcium-rich diet from early on since this is when more than 99 per cent of the body's calcium is laid in to build strong teeth and bones.
To ensure they maintain greater bone mass in adulthood, we should encourage children to eat foods high in calcium such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Children, especially girls, who do not consume enough calcium during their growing years, are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.
The recommended daily calcium intake for toddlers is around 500mg of calcium a day. This could be made up of 100g yoghurt, a cube of cheese and 1/2 cup full fat milk.
Milk and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are the obvious choices as they are among the richest and most significant sources of calcium you can add to a child's diets. Just one cup of milk provides 300mg of calcium and 40g of cheddar cheese provides 303mg calcium. Milk is also a good source of phosphorus and magnesium that helps the body absorb and use calcium more effectively.
But what if your kids can't or won't eat enough dairy foods to get the calcium they need? Try adding some of these calcium-rich foods to their diet:
Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
Below are some alternate food sources of calcium.
Food Amount Calcium (mg)
Almonds 15 40
Broccoli 1 cup 45
Cooked cabbage 1/2 cup 239
Edamame 1 cup 98
Eggs 2 50
Hummus 1/2 cup 60
Salmon, w/ bones - canned 1/2 cup 402
Tahini (sesame butter) 2 Tbs 180
Orange - medium 1 65
Beans, baked 1/2 cup 60
Bok choy - cooked 1/2 cup 80
Kale - cooked 1/2 cup 90
Sesame seeds 1 tbs 51