Just like our hair, skin, and nails, our teeth, too, require certain vitamins and minerals to be their best and their healthiest. One of the minerals that our teeth need is calcium. And you bet that children’s teeth have a definite need for this mineral as their primary teeth begin to emerge and grow. These are the teeth that foster speaking, chewing, and face formation for the next several years of your kiddo’s life. Not to mention, they act as placeholders for their future adult teeth. So, their first set of teeth should definitely be well taken care of and provided with the level of calcium they require. Knowing how important calcium is, especially for children’s teeth, then, you might ask, “How much calcium does my child need?” We can answer that question for you, but allow us to inform you more about the importance of calcium for the teeth.
How Important is Calcium for the Teeth?
You know calcium is important for the teeth and for the bones. You’ve probably heard that dozens of times. However, is calcium really that important? What would happen to your child’s teeth if they didn’t get enough calcium? Does it really make a difference, or is it just another one of those silly things that medical professionals recommend?
Just based on dental health alone, a lack of calcium can cause brittle teeth that are prone to breaking or falling out. In moderate to severe cases of calcium deficiency, especially if it has been happening for a while, you might notice your child is losing their primary teeth too early, losing too many at a time, or recently lost a permanent tooth for no apparent reason. In either of these scenarios, it’s absolutely critical to get your child to a dentist to see if these dental-related problems can be properly diagnosed and taken care of before things get worse and/or have permanent effects on your child. The problem won’t resolve on its own.
To answer the question of how important is calcium for the teeth, that answer is: very. Simply put, one cannot house a healthy set of baby or adult teeth if their calcium intake is lacking.
So, How Much Calcium Does My Child Need?
No parent wants their child to have problems with their teeth. It’s upsetting to see your young having to deal with oral aches, missing teeth, and the effects that come with it (e.g., bullying, difficulty speaking, trouble eating, etc.). You know calcium is a critical tooth-healthy mineral that might be able to help your child avoid the latter problems. So, now the question remains: “How much calcium does my child need?”
Children don’t require as much calcium as most of their adult counterparts. However, as they get older, their calcium requirement will increase to support their growing bones and additional number of teeth.
Infants six months of age and younger need about 200 mg of calcium a day. Six months to 12 months of age, children need 260 mg daily. For kids one- to two-years-old, they need approximately 700 mg of calcium a day. By the ages of four to eight years of age, children require 1,000 mg of calcium. And, nine- to 18-year-olds need 1,300 mg of calcium. For reference, 1,300 mg of calcium is equivalent to about four cups of milk. After the age of 18, your son or daughter’s recommended calcium intake will start to decrease until they reach the age of 70 where it will begin to increase again.
Sources of Calcium for Kids
As you’re aware of, milk is one common source of calcium for kids and adults alike. But, what else offers high calcium content? Cheese, yogurt, calcium-fortified soymilk, tofu, orange juice, beans, bread, green leafy vegetables, and almonds are other great sources of calcium.
Considering how many sources of calcium exist, it’s normally relatively easy for the average child to get enough calcium on a daily basis. However, for children with food allergies or sensitivities and for children who are relatively picky, ensuring they receive enough calcium might be a challenge. Parents might find it difficult to make sure their kiddo eats calcium-enriched foods and, therefore, have to be a little more creative with how they get their child to intake these foods daily.
Some meal and snack ideas to get picky kids to consume enough calcium include serving them:
- Mac and cheese
- Asiago cheese bagel with cream cheese
- Almond milk
- Cheese pizza
- Oatmeal (made with milk, almond milk, or calcium-fortified soymilk instead of water) – add a spoonful almond butter for extra calcium and flavor
- Almond cake
- Spinach- and ricotta cheese-stuffed chicken
- Yogurt parfaits
- Baked tofu tenders
- Three bean soup
- Stuffed grape leaves with Tzatziki dipping sauce
- Garlic cheese bread
- Bean & cheese burritos
- Cheesy baby spinach
- Chocolate mousse
- Vegetable stew/soup with chickpeas and kale
- Potato gratin
- Spinach-stuffed ravioli
- Swiss chard patties
- Chili beans with sour cream and grated cheese
- Almond butter & banana toast
- Baked kale bites
- Grilled cheese (experiment with different cheeses like swiss, provolone, or pepperjack)
- Pasta with parmesan or cooked spinach
It’s not always easy getting children to eat certain things. This is especially true when it comes to healthy foods. However, there are many different ways to present calcium-enriched foods to picky kids. Not to mention, there are many ways to hide calcium-rich ingredients in your child’s favorite dishes and bites to eat without them even knowing.
Signs of Calcium Deficiency in Children
Knowing how critical calcium is for our kiddos’ teeth, surely, you’re going to want to make sure they meet the daily requirement. So, you make sure to give plenty of calcium-containing foods to your kid. But, how do you know if they’re getting enough calcium? Good question.
Calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcemia, can cause a wide array of symptoms in both children and adults. Some of these symptoms may or may not include:
- Mental confusion
- Tingling or numbness in the face, hands, and feet
- Muscle cramps
- Weak, brittle nails
- Easily-fractured bones
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Slow heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Tremors or twitching
The younger your child is, the harder it will be to spot the signs of low levels of calcium. Normally, children who are a little bit older might complain of foot or hand pain or “pokey feelings” (i.e., pins and needles) in these limbs. You might also notice sluggishness, poor memory, or sleepiness among your child, despite them getting enough sleep.
However, the only way to know if your child is suffering from hypocalcemia is by taking them to a medical professional. If a calcium deficiency is detected, your child’s doctor will provide a solution and provide advice based on your child’s circumstances. Sometimes this solution might involve having your child take calcium supplements if their levels are particularly low and/or cannot be increased naturally.
In the end, healthy teeth and bones start with making sure your child is getting enough calcium on a day-to-day basis. Without this tooth-healthy mineral, your child’s oral health and general health can begin to decline. Now you know the answer to, “How much calcium does my child need?” and you know how to provide your kiddo with healthy sources of this mineral. So, play your role as an informed, concerned parent, and make calcium a critical component of your kid’s diet.