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Health Information For Parents
Calcium is a nutrient that builds strong bones. It helps the body in lots of other ways too. Calcium keeps the nerves and muscles working. It also plays a role in keeping the heart healthy.
We only get one chance to build strong bones — when we’re kids and teens. Children who get enough calcium start their adult lives with the strongest bones possible. That protects them against bone loss later in life.
Young kids and babies need calcium and vitamin D to prevent a disease called rickets. Rickets softens the bones and causes bow legs, stunted growth, and sometimes sore or weak muscles.
Calcium is found in food. Some foods are very high in calcium. Dairy foods like these are among the best natural sources of calcium:
The percentage of fat in milk and other dairy foods doesn’t affect their calcium content — skim, 1%, 2%, or whole all have about the same amount of calcium. Your health care provider will let you know which type of milk is right for your child.
Of course, some kids can’t eat dairy. They have to get calcium from other foods, such as:
Because calcium is so important, food companies often add it to cereal, bread, juice, and other kid-friendly foods.
Calcium is measured in milligrams (mg). We need different amounts at different stages of life. It’s best if kids get most of their calcium from food. If that’s not possible, health care providers might suggest a calcium supplement.
Babies get their calcium from breast milk or formula:
The only types of milk babies should have are breast milk or formula. Don’t give cow’s milk or any other kind of milk to babies younger than 1 year old.
Kids need more calcium as they get older to support their growing bones:
Babies get all their calcium from breast milk or formula. Young kids and school-age kids who eat a healthy diet with plenty of dairy also get enough. But preteens and teens may need to add more calcium-rich foods to their diet.
Try these tips to make sure kids and teens get enough calcium:
Kids who can’t eat dairy may not get enough calcium. If your child has lactose intolerance, a milk allergy, or eats a vegan diet, talk to your health care provider about calcium and vitamin D.
People need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium. Without it, calcium can’t get where it needs to go to build strong bones.
Vitamin D isn’t in many foods that kids eat. Because of this, health care providers often recommend supplements.
Babies who have only breast milk may need a vitamin D supplement. Baby formula has vitamin D added, so babies who drink more than 32 ounces of formula a day don’t need extra vitamin D.
Ask your health care provider if your baby or child needs a vitamin D supplement.
We build almost all our bone density when we’re kids and teens. Kids with strong bones have a better chance of avoiding bone weakness later in life. Here’s how parents can help.
Vitamin D is needed for strong bones, but is hard to come by because it’s found in few foods. Here’s how to make sure kids get enough vitamin D.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Making a decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. There are some points to consider to help you decide which option is best for you and your baby.
Without bones, muscles, and joints, we couldn’t stand, walk, run, or even sit. The musculoskeletal system supports our bodies, protects our organs from injury, and enables movement.
Almost all infants are fussy at times. But some are very fussy because they have an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk, which is the basis for most commercial baby formulas.
Find out how to make healthy food choices for your family by reading food labels.
To eat well during pregnancy, your extra calories should come from nutritious foods that contribute to your baby’s growth and development.
The food label on a food package is a lot like the table of contents in a book – it tells you exactly what the food contains. Read our article for kids for more about food labels.
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that the body needs to work properly. They boost the immune system, promote normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs.
If you have lactose intolerance, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans have the condition. Check out these tips on dealing with lactose intolerance.
People choose vegetarianism for a variety of reasons. This article describes different types of vegetarianism and provides advice on ways for vegetarians to get all the nutrients they need.
Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. Find out more about minerals in this article for kids.
Your parents were right to make you drink milk when you were little. It’s loaded with calcium, a mineral vital for building strong bones and teeth.
Our bones, muscles, and joints form our musculoskeletal system and enable us to do everyday physical activities.
Milk allergy can cause serious reactions. Find out how to keep kids safe.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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