Why Your Child Needs Calcium and Vitamin D to Help Keep Their Bones Healthy
You know “milk does a body good?” But why is that for kids? Our dietitian explains why your child needs calcium for healthy bones.
Contributor: Katherine Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
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The catchy commercials and billboards from the past sponsored by The National Dairy Council touting “Milk does a body good” still hold true today. According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines from the FDA, consuming milk and milk products is associated with improved bone health in children and adolescents. This is so important at a young age because the bone mass developed throughout childhood and adolescence contributes to lifelong skeletal health. It can help prevent fractures and osteoporosis later in life.
Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese are rich sources of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is a mineral that is essential for building strong bones and vitamin D is needed to absorb the calcium.
Unfortunately, most American youths from ages four to 18 consume less than the recommended amounts of milk, and even some younger children are not drinking enough milk. Keep in mind the recommended servings of milk/dairy products will ensure that your child meets the majority of his or her calcium and vitamin D needs. And all age groups should be drinking fat-free or low-fat milk products. (See chart for recommended amounts.)
The good news is that there are other sources of calcium besides milk. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli provide calcium. Other sources of vitamin D include whole eggs, tuna and salmon.
The National Dairy Council recommends these five tips to help children and adolescents develop eating behaviors that include dairy consumption: