The Importance of Calcium for Kids

The Importance of Calcium for Kids

Author -  Good Health


Why do kids need calcium?

As bone growth is most active throughout childhood and adolescence, this is when children need calcium the most. As they grow, children lay down the foundations for healthy bones later in life. On average, 90% of people reach their optimal bone mass by age 18 (for girls) and age 20 (for boys). At that point, bones have reached their maximum strength and density, which makes investing in bone health crucial during the early years. The higher the peak bone mass developed in childhood the lower the risk of poor bone health later in life.


How much calcium is recommended for children?

If calcium levels are low, bone sources will be depleted which may cause poor bone density and long-term loss of bone mass. It is important to ensure your child is getting enough calcium each day, the recommended daily intake varies according to your child’s age. 

     Age (Years)    RDI* Calcium (mg/day)
   Infants and Toddlers    1-3    500
   Children    4-8    700
     9-11     1000
     12-18    1300

*Source NZ Nutrition Foundation 



What foods contain Calcium?

Calcium is predominately found in milk and milk-based products like cheese. Calcium is also found in dark leafy greens, bony fish such as sardines and in smaller quantities in some nuts and seeds.

  Food/beverage   Practical serve   Calcium
  1 Cup lite blue top or trim milk   1 cup (250ml)   360
  Cottage cheese (light)   1 tablespoon (16g)   14
  Edam cheese   2cm cube (8g)   75
  Yoghurt   1 pottle (150g)   195
  Wholegrain bread   1 slice (45g)   33
  Sardines    1 sardine    66
  Almonds (raw)   10 almonds    30 
  Brazil nuts (raw)   10 brazil nuts    68 
  Sesame seeds   1 tablespoon (9g)    88
  Broccoli boiled   1 cup (164g)    59

*Source NZ Nutrition Foundation


How does Calcium work?

Bones are constantly growing, breaking down and rebuilding; even more so in childhood. Calcium is needed for the repair process, it helps the bone to rebuild properly and stay strong. But Calcium is not the only nutrient involved; did you know that for calcium to build strong, healthy bones, it needs three other key nutrients; vitamin D3, magnesium and vitamin K2?

Vitamin D: is activated in the body through exposure to sunlight and is best known for its ability to stimulate the absorption of calcium.

Magnesium: has an interactive, mutually beneficial relationship with calcium. It also helps to counterbalance the high levels of calcium that can accumulate in the body.

Vitamin K2: is difficult to obtain in adequate amounts from diet alone but is essential for the activation of the bone protein hormone; osteocalcin, which is responsible for binding calcium to the bone, optimising the bone building process. Children commonly have a much greater ratio of inactive to active osteocalcin, so require higher levels of vitamin K2.


Ensuring your child is eating a healthy; wholefood diet is a good place to start and where they may not be getting enough calcium or other key nutrients from their diet for effective utilisation and absorption of calcium, supplementation may also be a helpful option. It is recommended that you consult your healthcare professional to determine what is best for your child’s individual needs.

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