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Calcium Sources for Kids

The key to building healthy bones for life

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Who would have thought that osteoporosis — the brittle-bone disease that afflicts 10 million Americans over age 50 — is something you need to worry about for your kids? Not Maribel Burke. A few years ago, her 9-year-old daughter, Christina, mysteriously fractured each arm twice within 18 months. "The first time she was just catching a kickball," Burke says. It happened again when another child bumped into her on a slide. As one cast came off, another went on.

Calcium Sources

Drinking milk and eating dairy products are the best ways to get your daily calcium, but these foods help kids inch up to their recommended daily allowance (RDA), too.

  • Almonds, 1 oz: 9% RDA
  • Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup: 6% RDA
  • Canned salmon, 1 cup: 30% RDA
  • Edamame, ½ cup: 19% RDA
  • Flour tortilla, 8% RDA
  • Honey Nut Cheerios Milk ’n Cereal Bar: 31% RDA
  • Kix cereal,  1¹/3  cup: 19% RDA
  • Sunflower seeds, 1 cup: 11% RDA
  • Tofu (calcium sulfate–fortified), ½ cup: 26% RDA
  • Total Raisin Bran, 1 cup: 125% RDA
  • Waffles (calcium-fortified), 2: 13% RDA
  • White beans, cooked, 1 cup: 10% RDA
  • Wonder Kids Calcium-Fortified Bread, 1 slice: 25% RDA

After putting Christina through a bone-density study, Maribel received the shocking news: Her daughter had osteoporosis.

The bone-study doctor was taken aback, too — until Burke explained that her pediatrician had told Christina to stay away from dairy products as a hedge against the migraines she had been suffering. Once Christina started drinking milk again and taking a supplement containing calcium and vitamin D, her bone density improved, and she hasn't had a fracture since.

This may sound like an extreme example, but a surprising number of kids today have weak bones that are fracturing at alarming rates. The most recent study on thetopic found that kids 8 to 14 in the Mayo Clinic’s hometown of Rochester, MN, suffered broken bones 41 percent more frequently than children did in the previous 20-year span.

"Kids are more calcium-deficient than ever before," says lead researcher A. The reason? Children are drinking way too much soda and juice and not nearly enough milk.

Calcium and vitamin D (which helps the body absorb calcium) are essential for children to develop strong, healthy bones. Nearly half of preschoolers and more than 60 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds fail to meet their daily calcium requirements, a lack that sets them up for a bone-density deficit in the future. But take the following steps now, and there’s still time to turn things around.

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