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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What can I have my child eat and drink to have healthy bones?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Jo Charge

    Exercise Physiologist, Yoga Teacher

    Jo is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) and qualified Yoga teacher who specialises in working with individuals living with chronic musculoskeletal conditions, including Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, … View Profile

    One of the most important nutrients for bone health is calcium. Getting adequate calcium during our younger years is vital to ensuring we store as much calcium as possible in our bones and reach our peak bone mass (generally achieved by the age of 25). Achieving peak bone mass can help reduce our risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.

    The best way to ensure your child is getting adequate amounts of calcium is to look at the nutrient reference values for Australians. Osteoporosis Australia recommends different amounts of calcium depending on the age of the child.

    Children ages 1-3 years 500mg
    Children ages 4-8 years 700mg
    Children ages 9-11 years 1000mg
    Teenagers 12-18 years 1300mg
    Females adults under 50 years and males under 70 years 1000mg
    Females over 50 years and males over 70 years 1300mg

    One of the best sources of calcium in the diet is from dairy foods. A serve of regular milk (250ml) contains 285mg of calcium, 2 slices of cheddar cheese (40g) contains 327mg of calcium and a serve of plain yoghurt (200g) contains 390mg of calcium. Total calcium content from those serves of food equals 1002mg, the appropriate amount for a child aged 9-11 years. Lots of other foods also contain calcium, including things like apples (1 apple contains 7mg of calcium) and chicken (100g) contains 16mg of calcium. However, as you can see these foods have a very low level of calcium in them weight for weight than dairy foods.

    If your child is lactose intolerant or dislikes dairy foods it may be worth visiting an accredited practising dietician for individualised nutritional advice. Further information about bone health can be found at the Osteoporosis Australia website www.osteoporosis.org.au

    It is also important to ensure that your child has adequate levels of vitamin D in their body. Without adequate vitamin D stores we are less efficient at absorbing calcium from the diet. Exercise also plays a role in bone health, so make sure your child stays active to help bones stay strong.

  • Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    I think Jo has summed that up beautifully!

    Basically:
    - children aged 1-3 years old need 2 serves of calcium everyday
    - children aged 4-8 years old need 2-3 serves of calcium everyday
    - children aged 9-11 years old require 3 serves of calcium everyday
    - adolescents aged 12-18 years old require 4 serves of calcium everyday

    As Jo summed up the best sources of calcium do come from dairy products , as we absorb more calcium from these products. Eg:

    1 serve = 250ml milk, 200g yoghurt or custard, 2 slices (40g) of cheese etc

    Good sources of calcium that are dairy alternatives include:
    - 250ml of calcium fortified soymilk or ricemilk
    - handful (30g) hazelnuts, brazil nuts or almonds
    - 1/2 cup (85g) broccoli, bok choy, kale or chinese cabbage
    - 3 tablespoons (30g) sesame seeds

    Samantha Ling
    Rostant Nutrition
    (Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RostantNutrition)

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