by Udita Saklani
To build strong bones that last a lifetime, children and teens need lots of calcium. Here are a dozen calcium-rich foods and their benefits to your child
Calcium- is one of the most vital nutrients required by the human body. Did you know that other than milk, children can be given these foods to ensure their daily intake of this nutrient fulfils the body’s requirement (especially amongst lactose-intolerant children)? Most of the times we tend to concentrate on proteins, carbohydrates, fats and so on. Amidst this, the lesser-known but equally vital mineral nutrients like calcium get missed.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals. In fact, it’s a key element during a child’s formative years. In short, it is an element which lays down the foundation of good health when it comes to teeth and bones! All of us know that calcium helps in building bones and keeping them healthy, but you would be surprised to know other reasons as to why it is an essential nutrient too.
Don’t be surprised, if we told you that calcium helps the blood to clot, muscles to contract and our heart to beat! The intake of calcium should particularly be kept in mind during childhood, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Calcium also works in tandem with many enzymes which are produced by the human body. In other words, if there is a deficiency of calcium, it can lead to low effectivity and efficiency of these enzymes. These enzymes aid in proper digestion and absorption of vital nutrients in the body.
Listing down some calcium-rich foods which are extremely beneficial for your little one:
1. Soy :
Soy is an abundant source of calcium. Its milk is essentially made by soaking and grinding soy and then boiling it to get the final derivative. If your child is lactose intolerant then soy milk is an excellent alternative you can try.
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition. Along with other vital elements, it is also a good source of calcium. Apart from calcium, eggs also contain Vitamin D. It is important to note here that Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. Thus, taking Vitamin D in the right quantity is equally important.
All of us know the good old traditional cereals and their immense benefits during a child’s formative years. Good news is that cereals are also rich in calcium. Cereals such as ragi and sorghum contain calcium in just the right amounts adequate for the human body. These days, there are easy-to-consume ragi bites available in the market.
4. Green Leafy Vegetables :
We mums love our greens. The knowledge of green leafy veggies being good for the eyes is something we have heard from time immemorial. But do we also know that they are an excellent source of calcium? A 100-gm serving of a green vegetable contains about 99 mg of calcium. Serving green veggies to your little ones seems like a forever task! We got you covered. Try some green smoothies as breakfast, and cheesy veggie fingers as a snack to beat the evening hunger pangs!
6. Beans :
Beans are basically seeds which fall under legumes category. These are a great source of both calcium and iron. There are umpteen varieties of beans available like mung beans, kidney beans, chickpeas. Feeding beans is quite an easy task which comes either in the form of salads or as bean curries.
7. Almonds :
Almonds are one of the most nutrient-dense nuts, and it comes as no surprise that their calcium content is highest in the nuts family. Nuts can be started from as soon as 6 months of age or you can wait until the time your child starts proper chewing. For kids as young as 6 months, almond butter is the safest bet, while for toddlers you can make a nut mixture and mix it with their porridge.
Finger millet (ragi) contains about 5–8% protein, 1–2% ether extractives, 65–75% carbohydrates, 15–20% dietary fiber and 2.5–3.5% minerals. Of all the cereals and millets, finger millet has the highest amount of calcium (344mg%) and potassium (408mg%). It is one of the foods other than milk that is super-rich in calcium.
10. Cheese :
Say calcium and the first thing which strikes you is cheese! All kinds of cheese have ample calcium content, but parmesan is the one which beats all with the highest percentage. Cheese is a favorite among children and there are umpteen recipes in which you can easily incorporate the cheese you like.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and active life of our little munchkins!
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