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Calcium and Vitamin D Builds Strong Bones

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Why does your child need calcium?

  • The main mineral in bones is calcium. Calcium adds strength to bones to support the body. Providing your child enough calcium is important to form a strong skeleton.
  • The best food sources of calcium are dairy products. There are also some non-dairy foods that are good sources of calcium. Calcium supplements should only be given as your doctor recommends.
  • Soda decreases the absorption of calcium in the intestines. Limit the amount of soda your child drinks daily.

Calcium Requirements

Less than 6 months 200
6-12 months 260
1 year up to 4 years 500
4 years up to 9 years 800
9 years up to 18 years 1100

Why is Vitamin D important?

  • Your child also needs vitamin D to help his/her body absorb the calcium. Vitamin D moves calcium from the intestine to the bloodstream and into the bones.
  • Vitamin D is found in a variety of foods including fish and egg yolks. Read the label to see if the milk you use is fortified with vitamin D.
  • Sunshine exposure is also a significant way of increasing vitamin D in the body. The ultraviolet rays from the sunlight cause the skin to produce vitamin D. If your child is in the sunlight (without sunscreen) three times a week for about 10 to 15 minutes each time, he/she will get enough UV rays to produce vitamin D. Any additional time in the sun should have sunscreen coverage. Adequate sunshine can be difficult to obtain during the winter months so a food source may be needed.
  • Vitamin D Requirements: Birth to 18 years is 400 IU per day.
  • Breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 IU of vitamin D within the first days of life.
  • All formula fed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than 32 ounces of vitamin fortified formula or milk, should receive vitamin D supplement of 400 IU per day.

What foods are high in Calcium?

Food ItemAmountCalcium Content
Whole Grain Total3/4 cup800 mg
Sardines3 ounces371 mg
Yogurt (plain)8 ounces274 - 415 mg
Milk8 ounces291 - 316 mg
Soy Milk1 cup240 mg
Tofu3 ounces225 mg
American Cheese1 ounce159 - 219 mg
Processed cheese1 ounces159 - 219 mg
Salmon w/ bones3 ounces167 mg
Sour Cream4 ounces134 mg
Shrimp3 ounces98 mg
Broccoli (cooked)1 cup94 - 177 mg
Kale1 cup94 - 179 mg
Cottage cheese1/2 cup77 mg
Flintstones Complete Multiple vitamin and mineral supplement1 chewable tablet160mg

What foods are high in Vitamin D?

Food ItemAmountVitamin D Content
Cod liver oil1 Tablespoon1,360 IU
Salmon3 1/2 ounces360 IU
Mackerel3 1/2 ounces345 IU
Tuna fish3 ounces200 IU
Sardines1 3/4 ounces250 IU
Milk, vitamin D fortified1 cup98 IU
Egg1 egg yolk20 IU
Liver, beef3 1/2 ounces15 IU
Cheese, Swiss1 ounce12 IU
Flintstones Complete Multiple vitamin and mineral supplement1 chewable tablet400 IU

Reading Labels

The food label shows calcium as a percentage of the daily adult recommended intake rather than in milligrams (mg). The % for calcium is based on 1000 mg, which is the recommended daily intake for adults. To figure out how many milligrams of calcium is in a serving, add a “0” to the Daily Value (DV), for example, 30% DV = 300 mg Calcium. (This trick only works with calcium).

This label shows that 1 cup of milk provides 300 mg of calcium.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 02/2018

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