Calcium is crucial for kids to have healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Check out these top Foods to Increase your Child’s Calcium levels in a healthy manner.
We all know that we need calcium for strong bones and teeth. While this is true, particularly for children, this is not all that calcium does. It also helps in healthy functioning of nerves and muscles, including the heart. Getting enough calcium during the early years is crucial, as it sets the stage for healthy bones, muscles and other organs and systems in adult life.
Not getting enough calcium and Vitamin D can lead to a disease called rickets that can lead to stunted growth. A deficiency in calcium is called hypocalcemia. This condition is all the more dangerous because early stages may not show symptoms. However, in the long term, it can lead to dental issues, osteoporosis and even poor brain function. Unfortunately by then, the damage is done.
It is estimated that across the globe, 3.5 billion people are suffering from calcium deficiency. A study of 74 countries published in Osteoporosis International found that “most countries in South, East, and Southeast Asia have low average dietary calcium intake, less than 400 to 500 mg/day“.
So how much calcium do kids really need? Here is a quick guide to daily calcium requirements by age:
- 6-11 months: 260 mg
- 1 – 3 years: 700 mg (2–3 servings)
- 4 – 8 years: 1,000 mg (2–3 servings)
- 9 – 18 years: 1,300 mg (4 servings)
Babies under six months of age get the calcium they need from breast milk or formula, and they don’t need any supplement. However after six months of age, we need to ensure that they get enough calcium from food. The most obvious choice for calcium rich food is cow’s milk or dairy. A cup of milk contains 300 mg of calcium, which is equivalent to a cup of yogurt/curd or about 50 grams of cheese.
However, there may be children who can’t eat dairy, perhaps due to lactose intolerance or because the family is vegan. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of non-dairy calcium sources out there! Here are 10 healthy plant-based foods to increase your child’s calcium levels so they grow strong and healthy.
10 Healthy Plant-based Foods to Increase your Child’s Calcium Levels
1. Sprouted Ragi Powder (6 Months+)
Of all the plant based sources of Calcium, ragi or finger millet has got to be on the number one spot. Just 100 grams of ragi contains a whopping 364 mg of calcium. It is the ideal calcium substitute for those who can’t have dairy. In fact, according to a report in Frontiers in Plant Science, “millets hold stronger promise to provide economic, food and nutritional security to people surviving on marginal and resource-poor soils…..finger millet is also gaining popularity as an ideal target crop for Ca biofortification“.
This Sprouted ragi flour takes the benefits of ragi to another level by sprouting, and making its nutrients more bio-available so they’re more easily absorbed by the body. It can be used by the whole family – as porridge for babies and as an addition to regular flour for children and adults. To make porridge, simply cook 2 tablespoons of the powder with 2 cups of water for 15 minutes.
2. Instant Soya Rice Porridge Powder (6 Months+)
Soy beans are another amazing source of calcium, and soy milk is often considered as a good replacement for dairy milk especially for those who are lactose intolerant. 100 grams of soy beans contains a massive 277 mg of calcium. And that’s not all, soy is also rich in dietary fiber and is an excellent source of plant based protein. Soy beans are also rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients.
This instant soy rice porridge is a great way for little babies to have a complete meal packed in carbohydrates, protein, fiber and calcium. Just add 100 ml of boiled hot water to 4 tbsp of powder in a bowl and cover for five minutes. Open, stir and serve baby.
(The foods listed below are suitable for children over one year of age)
According to the National Institute of Nutrition in India, ragi is the most calcium-rich grain among all cereals. 1 cup of cooked ragi provides 13% of the daily calcium requirement of an adult. Along with being an excellent source of calcium, ragi is also rich in fiber, iron, protein and antioxidants and phytochemicals.
We know that sprouting ragi ensures that the nutrients are made more bio-available. This sprouted ragi malt contains more than just sprouted ragi; it also contains another plant based source of calcium and healthy fats – almonds. This drink can be made in plain water, or its calcium can be boosted by pairing it with another calcium-rich ingredient like soy milk or cow’s milk.
This energy nutri mix is truly a super mix of all the calcium wonder foods. It contains finger millet and pearl millet to begin with, along with fried gram, green gram and black chana. Dried beans and lentils are a good source of calcium, and they come along with lots of protein and a healthy dose of dietary fiber and micronutrients like iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium.
The energy nutri mix also contains lots of nuts, including the calcium-rich almonds as well as flax seeds. Flax seeds are a surprisingly rich source of calcium; 100 grams of flax seeds contain as much as 255 mg of calcium. To make the energy nutri mix drink, simply cook 2 tablespoons of the mix with 2 cups of water on a medium flame for 10 minutes. You can add a natural sweetener like organic jaggery or organic coconut sugar.
This dry fruits powder is a little microcosm of all the best things from the nuts and spices family – almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios as well as turmeric, nutmeg and saffron. Of all the nuts, almonds are known to be the highest in calcium. 1 cup of almonds has a huge 385 mg of calcium, which means that less than 30 grams of almonds gives you 8% of the daily requirement of calcium. They’re also very rich in fiber, Vitamin E and healthy fats.
This dry fruits powder is an excellent way to get so many nutrients and antioxidants in one small scoop. The best part is that its so versatile, you can add it to just about anything – drinks, cereal, porridge, dough, batter, milkshakes. The nuttiness of the mix makes it an instant hit with kids, including fussy eaters.
Chocolate is the number one ingredient Moms use to make food more attractive for children, and it often works. However, instead of opting for commercial health drinks to get kids to drink milk and get their calcium, it makes more sense to include a natural alternative, like this choco ragi almond drink.
This drink doesn’t just add a chocolate flavor to milk – it also adds to the calcium content. With ragi that has the highest calcium content amongst cereals and almonds that have the most calcium among nuts, this is a drink mix that is already brimming with this important nutrient. Since this contains 100 % Pure and Natural Cocoa Powder without any added flavors, this is an ideal calcium-rich food for fussy eaters.
This multigrain health drink is no ordinary health drink – it contains a cocktail of the healthiest ingredients that are just loaded with high amounts of calcium. These ingredients include finger millet, sorghum, corn, almonds, cashew nuts and sesame seeds.
Sesame seeds are often an underestimated source of calcium. Just 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds has 88 mg of calcium, which is 9% of the daily requirement of calcium. They’re also rich in iron, copper, zinc and manganese, along with antioxidants. Such is the effect of its calcium, that studies have found that adding sesame seeds to people’s diets helped relieve knee osteoarthritis.
One of the best ways to ensure kid get their calcium requirement of the day is to ensure they get it in the morning itself, so you’re done with it for the day. This is the reason most parents try to get kids to drink a glass of milk first thing in the morning, but they often end up struggling with this. An easier option is to sneak in the calcium through their breakfast.
This organic instant ragi dosa mix makes this task very easy, and you won’t have to worry about the glass of milk lying untouched. This mix contains nothing other than ragi, rice and cumin, and is quick and easy to prepare even on busy mornings. Just make a batter with water, curd and a few vegetables. Let it sit for 10 minutes before using it to make dosas as usual.
If kids aren’t all that into dosas or other usual breakfast foods, it’s a good idea to try something more kid-friendly, like pancakes. This choco ragi pancake mix has chocolate which will instantly be a hit with kids, and it also contains whole wheat and finger millet which makes this a calcium-rich pancake mix.
The ragi and chocolate both contribute to a beautiful brown color that’ll have kids very happy to see this pancakes on their plate. Being whole grain, this is a breakfast that’ll keep kids full till lunch. Serve the pancakes with some fruit and homemade date syrup orchocolate syrup for extra flavor.
If breakfast doesn’t pan out for some reason, you can still ensure your child gets her calcium at the end of the day, by dinner time. One option is to use sprouted ragi flour in chapati dough, but if you’d like a more kid-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with finger millet noodles.
These noodles are made from fortified wheat flour and ragi flour, making this a wholesome, filling option for dinner that will ensure kids sleep well on a full tummy. The taste maker is unlike commercial taste makers; it contains 100% natural spices like chilli powder, turmeric, pepper, ginger and others. The noodles cook in just 3 minutes, and you can add assorted vegetables to make the noodles more attractive as well as nutritious.
When including calcium-rich foods in your child’s diet, please ensure that your kids get enough Vitamin D as well. Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium, and children need at least 400 IU (International Units) every day. Vitamin D is produced on exposure to the sun, so let kids get some outdoor time everyday. Including cheese and egg yolks can also help.