Why do children need calcium to stay healthy?
Calcium is one of the most active elements in children’s bodies. Calcium is not only a component of the bones and teeth but also exists in the blood and tissue. Calcium plays an important role in nerve conduction and immune system:
- Strengthening bones and teeth: adequate calcium supplementation helps kids have a strong and flexible skeleton which allows them reaching optimal height when growing up. Moreover, they would not suffer from joint and dental diseases such as small and weak bones, growth retardation, dwarfs, rickets or irregular teeth, deformed teeth and tooth decay.
- Conduction of Nerve Impulse: calcium acts as a natural tranquilizer for the brain to help children increase concentration and have a refreshing, relaxed spirit in learning and physical activities.
- Boosting the immune system: calcium is an “effective assistant” of “white blood army”. Calcium supports white blood cells to recognize “strangers” and switch the immune cells into "action" mode.
- Regulating cardiac muscle, smooth muscles and other muscles: calcium keeps the cardiac muscle in steady contraction limiting feelings of nervousness, shortness of breath. In addition, calcium is an indispensable component in muscle and smooth muscle as well. Lack of calcium in the muscles would cause fatigue, disintegration relating to poor motor performance. To smooth muscles, the most pronounced effect is in the digestive system. Children need to be provided enough calcium to avoid health issues such as anorexia, malnutrition due to difficulty absorbing some nutrients.
How much calcium do kids need?
As recommended by the World Health Organization WHO, at different stages of the body's development, babies will have different calcium content needs:
- Children under 6 months of age: 300mg / day
- From 7-12 months of age: 400mg / day
- From 1-3 years: 500mg / day
- From 4-6 years: 600mg / day
- From 7-9 years: 700mg / day
- From 10 years old: 1000mg / day
- From 11 and up: 1200mg / day
The symptoms of calcium deficiency
Besides bones and teeth, calcium is involved in many regulatory activities within the body. Therefore, it is easy for mothers to recognize the manifestations when babies is lacking of calcium in order to promptly supplement:
- Cold perspiration
- Complaining about muscles ache, particularly in the arms, underarms, and thighs when moving or walking around
- Nails become weak with brittle edges
- Ring-shaped hair loss in babies
The most appropriate time to supplement calcium is in the early morning approximately 30 minutes after breakfast. This is the time kids prepare for an active day which allows increasing calcium absorption. Conversely, calcium should not be taken at night, especially before bed because during this time the body needs to rest and recover, the organs will be less active, resulting in excess calcium which would put more pressure on the kidneys.
Calcium is best absorbed through foods so we should eat calcium-rich foods such as shrimps, crabs, eggs, soy and dairy products. Besides, adequate vitamin D3 is also extremely important. Vitamin D3 enhances the body's ability to absorb calcium. Vitamin D3 is one of the few vitamins that the body can synthesize under the catalysis of UVb rays from the sun. Therefore, it is important to allow your children time in the sun everyday.
Calcium supplements are also essential in making certain that children reach the right amount of calcium. As with any supplements, it is always recommended you consult your physician or healthcare provider before starting a new product.
In conclusion, calcium is one of the most crucial minerals for the body, especially for child development. Parents should always pay attention to support their children to supplement with adequate calcium allowing babies to grow and remain in good health.