Milk and other calcium-rich foods are a must-have in kids’ diets. Calcium is a key building block for strong, healthy bones. But most kids and teens don’t get the recommended 1,300 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day.
That’s not surprising when you consider that many kids now drink more soda than milk, which is one of the best sources of calcium. And teens who smoke or drink soda, caffeinated beverages, or alcohol may get even less calcium because these interfere with the way the body absorbs and uses calcium.
But at every age, from infancy to adolescence, calcium is one nutrient that kids simply can’t afford to skip.
How Much Calcium Is Enough?
When kids and teens get enough calcium and physical activity, they can start their adult lives with the strongest bones possible. For the best bone health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends:
1 to 3 years old — 700 mg of calcium daily
4 to 8 years old — 1,000 mg of calcium daily
9 to 18 years old — 1,300 mg of calcium daily
Besides getting enough calcium, they also should get 600 IU of vitamin D daily. If you think your kids aren’t getting the nutrients needed, talk to your health care provider about changing their diet or using vitamin supplements.