As you get your kids ready for school, don’t forget to pack calcium-rich snacks.

According to information published by the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, only 12 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys between the ages of 9 and 13 consume the recommended amounts of calcium they need. enough calcium. In the later teen years, 42 percent of boys consumed enough calcium, but only 10 percent of girls received the calcium their bodies needed.

In the later teen years, 42 percent of young men met their daily requirements, but the number of young women who were calcium deficient increased to 90 percent. Since childhood is a time to build bones and bank calcium, this deficiency can have a devastating effect. Lack of calcium and minerals stored in the bones could lead to osteoporosis later in your child’s life.

How much calcium does your child need?

According to the National Institutes of Health, children need different amounts of calcium at each age.

  • 1 to 3 years old – 700 mg of calcium each day
  • 4 to 8 years old – 1,000 mg of calcium each day
  • 9 to 18 years old – 1,300 mg of calcium each day

Your child needs to consume enough calcium each day to meet their daily minimum requirements. As a guide, one cup, eight ounces, of milk contains 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium or about 30 percent of an adult’s recommended daily calcium.

If your child is allergic to dairy or does not like milk, there are other ways he or she can add calcium to their diets. Today, there are many substitutes for milk. Lactaid and plant-based milk, such as almond milk, supply the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk. These dairy substitutes can be used on cereal, in cooking and baking with good results.

Stock up on calcium-rich snacks.

Sardines are a great source of calcium, but they’re not usually a favorite snack of children – or many adults for that matter. While the odds of most children eating sardines, canned salmon, turnip greens, or kale may be slim, there are other ways you can fortify your child’s meals or snacks with extra calcium.

The key is finding calcium-rich foods your child enjoys. We’ve put together a list of common foods that you can stock in your refrigerator or in your cupboard to boost your child’s calcium intake.

Here are twenty great-tasting ways to add calcium to your child’s diet.

Snacks and foods with 200 to 400 milligrams of calcium

2 /3 cup of chia seed pudding = 390 milligrams
1-½ ounces of cheddar cheese = 300 milligrams
8 ounces of almond milk = 300 milligrams
8 ounces of cow’s milk = 300 milligrams
8 ounces of fortified orange juice = 270 milligrams
1 cup of macaroni and cheese = 250 milligrams
1 piece of string cheese = 200 milligrams of calcium

Snacks and foods with 200 to 400 milligrams of calcium

5.3 ounces of yogurt = 150 milligrams
1/2 cup of vanilla pudding = 139 milligrams
1 cup of Cheerios = 112.28 milligrams
1/4 cup of almonds = 100 milligrams
2 Tbsp. of almond butter (a substitute for peanut butter) = 100 milligrams

Foods with less than 100 milligrams of calcium

1/2 cup of Garbanzo beans (think hummus) = 80 milligrams
1 cup of shredded Chinese cabbage = 74 milligrams
1 cup raw broccoli = 70 milligrams
1/2 cup of navy beans (cook, blend and add to soups/dips/chili) = 70 milligrams
1/4 cup of Sunflower seeds = 28 milligrams

You can also purchase pre-packaged foods fortified with calcium. Read the nutritional labels to determine how much calcium these foods can add to your child’s diet.

Serving sweet potatoes and creamy yogurt dip with fresh fruit, or adding a slice of cheese to sandwiches and a scoop of whey protein (a dairy byproduct) to your child’s smoothie are other easy ways you can sneak calcium into the foods you serve every day.

Spinach also is reported to have high levels of calcium, but it also includes high levels of oxalic acid, which blocks calcium absorption. While you may get some benefit, it is not wise to depend on spinach as a major source of calcium.

As children reach the teen years, girls especially, may not be open to eating dairy products since they are usually high in calories. You can counter this fact by fixing salads with kale, Bok choy or Chinese cabbage. Make calcium rich soups and stews by adding navy beans, cheese or yogurt. Serve pudding made with almond or low-fat milk. These additions can help your teenager get the calcium she needs.

With a little creativity, you can boost the calcium content of your family’s favorite dishes.

Every body needs calcium for health.

Young or old, active or inactive, every person’s body needs calcium for strong teeth and strong bones. Ninety-nine percent of our calcium is stored in our bones to make them strong.

Calcium is also necessary for:

  • Blood clotting functions
  • Sending and receiving of nerve impulses
  • Muscle contraction and extension
  • The regulation of hormones and other chemicals
  • A rhythmic heartbeat

Without adequate amounts of calcium in the body, people are at risk for osteoporosis, colon cancer, prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, kidney stones and weight gain.

Keep calcium in balance.

We should strive to get the calcium we need from the foods we eat. If we can’t, adding a calcium supplement may be necessary.

But, supplements should be used with care and under the direction of your primary care provider. Too much calcium in the body may cause hypercalciuria, high levels of calcium in the blood and urine. This condition can also lead to renal failure, vascular and soft tissue calcification, and kidney stones.

Recent studies also show a relationship between calcium supplements and a buildup of plaque in the arteries.

If you are concerned about child’s bone health, the development of osteoporosis or have questions about calcium, talk to your primary care provider, a registered dietitian or an orthopedic provider.