Generally, ions are an essential element of our body formation, and calcium is not an exception. Calcium allows our bones and muscles, including the heart, to be strong and healthy. Therefore, a deficiency in calcium intake will result in weak calcium-dependent tissues, for example, teeth.
The dietary requirements for calcium vary across age groups; however, there is no debate on the necessity of the ion. At the pediatric age, the importance of adequate calcium intake has been emphasized across the world through global campaigns, health programs for nursing mothers and efforts from community health workers. However, it’s vital to understand calcium and the recommended amounts for teenagers.
What is calcium?
Calcium is an essential mineral in our body that is responsible for strong bones and teeth. Additionally, calcium pivots our nervous, muscular, and cardiovascular health. Therefore, calcium deficiency presents with various complications to tissues. These include;
Since most bone growth occurs in the first 18 years of life, calcium deficiency can cause poor bone integrity and lead to rickets. Rickets presents with bowing of long bones, like the femur and poor dentition. If the condition is not managed in time, the structural complications are lifelong.
Osteoporosis is simply the weakening of bones, and it’s predominantly a complication of calcium deficiency in adulthood. Unfortunately, people with osteoporosis are at a high risk of developing pathological fractures.
Teeth formation and growth require calcium; therefore, deficiency leads to poor dentition. Individuals with low calcium levels often have chipped, brittle and missing teeth. Poor dentition is prominent among teenagers since most tooth development occurs at this age.
Other complications of hypocalcemia.
Aside from bone pathologies, other complications of hypocalcemia include muscle cramps, depression, hallucinations and memory loss.
Low calcium levels in the body have two main causes; low dietary input and diseases. Poor nutritional intake is widespread among children and teenagers since their requirements vary significantly. On the other hand, diseases like gastroenteritis and malnutrition can reduce calcium absorption in the gut or resorption from bone stores.
How much calcium do you need?
The amount of calcium recommended for the body changes with age. 700mg of calcium is the recommended daily dietary requirement for children between one and three years. For children between four and eight years, the need goes up to 1000mg, while 1300mg is the minimum requirement between nine and eighteen years of age. Therefore, teens still need calcium despite the overwhelming emphasis for pre-adolescent children.
Dietary sources of calcium
Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are among the leading sources of calcium. Soft edible bones in canned salmons and sardines also provide calcium. For breastfeeding children, nothing beats breast milk. However, baby formulas are available for children on complement feeds. Moreover, supplements are available for children of pre-adolescent and adolescent ages. However, natural foods like deep green leafy vegetables, chickpeas and almond milk are superior.
In conclusion, including calcium minerals in your diet is essential for children, teens, and the elderly. Therefore, don’t compromise on your intake.