Role of Calcium in the Growth of the Child
Oleh: Morinaga Platinum
During the growth period, the child required adequate and balanced nutrients in order to ensure that the growth and development process is optimal. One of the nutrients highly required by the body during the growth and development process is calcium. Calcium is not only required to build and maintain the structure of bones and teeth but also play an important role in the growth of muscle and nerve cells, the coagulation system, as well as the regulation of the heart rhythm.
For children receiving exclusive breastfeeding, the calcium requirements are met by the calcium levels present in breast milk. Even though the calcium levels in breast milk are much lower compared to that in formula milk, the calcium in breast milk is more easily absorbed by the child.
When the child reaches 6 months of age, they should be introduced to complementary food. This is required because at this point, their daily nutritional requirements can no longer be met by just breast milk. The child also becomes increasingly skillful in sharpening their motor abilities such as crawling, and eventually standing and walking. This requires a strong bone and muscle structure, which means that parents should pay attention to the calcium requirements of the child by serving food rich in calcium.
A child receiving calcium intake and performing physical activities since an early age will undergo adulthood with strong bones. Why should calcium intake be noted since an early age? The calcium in the body will continue to decrease with age. Types of activities performed and sex are factors that affect the calcium levels in the body. Therefore, calcium intake should be noted to ensure that the requirements of the body are met.
The following are the daily calcium requirements of the child according to The National Academy of Medicine in United States:
- 1-3 years old: 700 mg
- 4-8 years old: 1,000 mg
When talking about calcium, parents will immediately think of the food products that is widely known to be rich in calcium, which are milk and its derivative products. What are classified as milk derivative prodcuts? These include cheese, butter, and yoghurt. Calcium is not only obtained from milk and its derivatives. In order to prevent boredom, parents can add variety to the menu by adding other food substances that also contain calcium.
Some examples of other food substances containing calcium include tofu, spinach, whole grain bread, cereals, soy milk, almond milk, turnip, pudding, salmon, oranges, and others.
The body will absorb calcium better if it is assisted by vitamin D. This means that parents should also ensure that the child receives adequate vitamin D, which ranges between 400-600 IU every day. Vitamin D ca be obtained from food sources almost similar to calcium, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, salmon, cereals, orange juice, margarine, beef, and egg yolk.
Other than food, vitamin D can also be produced by our own skin if we are exposed to enough sunlight. This means that parents should actively encourage the child to perform activities in the sun so that the formation of vitamin D in the body can proceed well. However, parents should note when is the safe time to be in the sun, which is in the morning till 09.00 and in the evening from 15.00.
So, in order for the child to have adequate calcium reserves until adulthood, parents should ensure that their daily menu contains food rich in calcium and encourage them to perform activities in the sun.