Is your child's lunch packed with enough on-the-go calcium?
Whether it's yogurt, cheese or milk, young people
between ages 8 and 18 need four to five servings of
calcium a day. This ensures that they'll build strong
bones now and into adulthood. According to Virtua
Health pediatrician Samir Doshi, MD:
"Our bones contain almost 99 percent
calcium. And, growing bodies need
more to increase bone density
and decrease the risk of fractures
and osteoporosis later in life."
Many kids trade milk for soft
drinks and juices, and most
don't get enough of the daily
of calcium, which
varies by age group.
"The recommended servings for kids and teens are
high because their bone mass as adults will be determined
by the amount of calcium they consume
while they're young," says Dr. Doshi. He offers this
advice for deciphering food labels: "To find out how
many milligrams of calcium are in a serving, just add zero to the end of the number listed for the
daily value. For example, a serving of orange juice
that says it has 30 percent of the daily value of
calcium has 300 mg."
Foods rich in calcium include milk and other
dairy products as well as certain green vegetables like
broccoli or spinach. For lactose-intolerant children,
calcium-fortified foods like orange juice or cereal
are also healthy choices. "Incorporating calcium into
your child's meal can be easy. Add low-fat cheese to
sandwiches, or give them favorites like macaroni
and cheese, pizza and tacos. Snacks like cheese sticks
or yogurt are also quick on-the-go calcium sources,"
says Dr. Doshi. The doctor's reminder for adults:
"Be sure you're getting enough, too."