If you’re wondering whether children should take calcium supplements, you’re not alone. Calcium deficiency is the most common medical condition in children worldwide, and can cause rickets (which hinders the development of a healthy skeleton) among other such serious complications. On the other hand — whether it’s true or not — we’ve been brought up to think that a high calcium intake makes for happy bones and happy teeth.

Image of rickets effects

The effects of rickets, which is caused by calcium deficiency in children.

Calcium supplements are designed as an easy solution to a big problem: not getting enough calcium. However, many parents question the necessity and the healthiness of giving kids calcium supplements. That’s why we’re writing this article: to help you make an effective judgement on whether or not your child should take a calcium supplement.

How much calcium does my child need?

The first question to ask yourself is whether or not your child is getting enough calcium. Of course, that starts with knowing how much calcium they need! Here are the average calcium requirements for a healthy child:

Age BracketRecommended Daily Intake
1 to 3 years700 mg
4 to 8 years1000 mg
9 to 18 years1300 mg

Now let’s talk about how to work out whether your child is meeting these calcium requirements.

Is my child getting enough calcium?

There are some foods which contain much higher quantities of calcium than others, contributing disproportionately to your daily intake. These foods include dairy products, fish, nuts, and many green vegetables.

Image of cheese (dairy product).

Dairy products like traditional cheeses often contain high amounts of calcium.

If your child doesn’t eat much from these food groups — perhaps they’re allergic to nuts or lactose-intolerant — then you should definitely look into the possibility of them having an insufficient calcium intake.

The easiest way to check whether your child is getting enough calcium is by adding up the calcium content of their food to see if it meets the above requirement.

You can do this by making modest estimates of the kind of food your child eats everyday. Add up the calcium contents of these foods (from the food’s label or by finding the numbers online), and see if it meets the calcium requirement above.

Should my child take calcium supplements?

If your son or daughter isn’t meeting the daily calcium requirments, you should definitely make sure they get more calcium in the future. You don’t want to risk hindering their growth or causing them illness!

You can do so by adding more calcium-rich foods to their diet or by giving them a calcium supplement. The other issue to consider is whether your child is getting sufficient vitamin D – which is normally ensured by a few minutes in the sun everyday — as it’s key in the effective absorption of calcium.

Image of calcium supplement with vitamin D

Calcium supplements often have vitamin D included to ensure effective absorption.

We’d recommend that you improve their diet wherever possible without using supplements. This way you can ensure that they’re getting all of vitamins and minerals that come in a varied diet.

If you can’t manage to increase their calcium intake with the help of calcium-rich foods or calcium-fortified foods (like cereals or juices), then definitely consider calcium supplements (most commonly in the form of calcium citrate) after a discussion with your family doctor. You might also want to think about what other supplements your child needs.

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If you're wondering whether children should take calcium supplements, you're not alone. Calcium deficiency is the most common medical condition in children worldwide, and can cause rickets (which hinders the development of a healthy skeleton) among other such serious complications. On the other hand -- whether it's true or...