Calcium and vitamin D for health
Calcium and vitamin D are important to your child's health. Her body needs calcium because it:
- Helps form bones and teeth.
- Keeps bones and teeth strong to prevent breaks and decay.
- Is important for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and sending nerve impulses.
Without vitamin D, your child's body cannot absorb and use calcium to make and keep strong bones. A chronically low level of vitamin D is also linked to developing these conditions:
- Heart disease.
- A low-functioning immune system.
How much calcium and vitamin D does my child need every day?
The amount of calcium and vitamin D your child needs depends on her age. Children between the ages of:
- 4 to 8 years should get 800 mg/day of calcium and 400 IU/day of vitamin D.
- 9 to 18 years should get 1,300 mg/day of calcium and 400 IU/day of vitamin D.
To see if you and your child are getting enough calcium, use this calcium calculator from the Osteoporosis Foundation.
How can I make sure my child gets the calcium and vitamin D she needs?
- Make sure she eats 3 to 4 servings of high-calcium foods every day: low-fat or fat-free dairy products are best. If you use milk substitutes like soy or almond milk, choose unsweetened varieties that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Orange juice with added calcium is available, but like all juice it contains a lot of sugar and should be limited.
- Offer other foods that contain calcium: fortified cereals, tofu made with calcium sulfate (check the ingredients), and leafy greens like kale.
- Make soups, puddings, parfaits, and dips with low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Serve fish containing vitamin D regularly.
- Choose dairy products, juices, and cereals that are fortified with vitamin D.