From being in the womb to enjoying your retirement, this one mineral is incredibly vital to our overall health. Especially important for adolescents who are building bones rapidly. Teens are growing fast and gaining height so their Calcium needs are also high. However, invariably they are most deprived because they switch from milk to non-dairy beverages (e.g. coke, ice-teas etc) and munch a lot of salty foods (e.g. chips, fries, pizza etc). Caffeine and soda lead to calcium loss from the body. Comfort-foods (high in sodium) is the other robber of calcium. At this point of time they badly need calcium containing foods in their diet to meet the required amount of this mineral. Read here to know more.
99% of the Calcium is stored in Bones and Teeth. If calcium is needed elsewhere, it is taken from the Bones. Hence it becomes imperative to keep 100% stock of calcium and consume it every day. The more bones will lend calcium, the weaker they will become. It is said that Osteoporosis is a disease that manifests in old age.
We only build bones until mid-20s and hence it becomes crucial to build strong bones and teeth to last us a lifetime.
Calcium containing foods
Milk & dairy products
Milk, cheese and yogurt are a rich source of calcium and are the most widely used calcium rich foods in India and other countries for kids. They are good for children who don’t have any milk allergies. In case your child has allergies to dairy products, then you should look for non-dairy foods rich in calcium. (Foods to prevent allergies in kids)
Moringa is a superfood. It has 3 times more calcium than milk which makes it an excellent food to treat weak or damaged bones and also one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium. Some studies also indicate that moringa can heal damaged bones thus making it a must have calcium rich foods for bones. (Foods and remedies for cold and flu in kids)
Ragi is also one of the foods which is very high in calcium. It is said that no other plant source can provide calcium the way ragi can, making it one of a popular non-dairy calcium rich foods in India. It is a whole grain that is gluten free also and can be used in baking cakes and cookies.
Cabbage, mustard (sarson leaves), broccoli & ladyfinger are a good source of calcium. (How to retain vitamin A and C in food?)
Many seeds are good sources of calcium. For instance, 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of poppy seeds has 13% of the recommended daily intake, while the same serving of sesame seeds packs 9% of the recommended daily intake. In addition to calcium, chia seeds are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids. (List of seeds to eat everyday)
Amongst all the nuts, almonds are the highest in calcium. One ounce of almonds or about 22 almonds, provides 8% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. (Top 6 benefits of almonds for kids)
Lotus seeds/ Makhana
Makhana or lotus seeds are grown in Asian countries and considered as one of the best calcium containing foods. Makhana is an excellent source of many important nutrients. It is loaded with protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and carbohydrates. Just a bowl of makhana is a great snack for kids. (Easy to make Makhana ice cream recipe)
In addition to calcium, Amaranth is a good source of folate and very high in certain minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. One cup (246 grams) of cooked amaranth grain delivers 116 mg of calcium, or 12% of the recommended daily intake.
Potassium rich food
If the child eats lots of comfort-food, then consuming Potassium rich foods (banana, spinach, cucumber, peas, sweet potato) will save Calcium from being robbed from the bones.
Calcium & Vitamin D
Calcium always works together with Vitamin-D and Magnesium. So, foods high in these nutrients are necessary to be included in your kid’s diet (e.g. dairy, whole grains, nuts, greens).
Recipe: Ragi Pancake
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