Calcium is a mineral that helps build and maintain strong, healthy bones and teeth. Although daily calcium intake is essential, the recommended amount varies by age. The suggested amount of calcium for children ranges from 210 to 1,300 mg per day.
Infants require the least amount of calcium per day. From birth until six months of age, the calcium for children guidelines recommend 210 mg of the mineral per day. The calcium intake should rise to 270 mg daily from six to 12 months. Babies in this age group may obtain their needed calcium from breast milk or commercial formula. Although rich in calcium, cow's milk should not be given to children who have not yet reached their first birthday, as it may lead to allergy development and digestive problems.
After a child turns one year old, he may obtain his calcium from whole milk. Approximately two glasses of milk will fulfill the calcium for children requirements of toddlers aged one to three years. This amount of milk contains 500 mg of the mineral, which is essential at this age for rapidly growing bones. Pediatricians generally recommend that parents switch to low-fat milk after their children are two years old, as the high fat content of whole milk is no longer necessary for proper growth at that time.
Calcium for children requirements increase again between the ages of four and eight years. Children in this age group should consume 800 mg of calcium per day. This is equivalent to approximately three glasses of milk.
During puberty, children need more calcium than they will at any other time in their life. Growth spurts in this stage make calcium intake even more important for strong bones. Calcium for children nine to 18 years old should equal 1,300 mg every day, or four glasses of milk.
Although milk is generally the first source that comes to mind when discussing calcium intake, the mineral can be found in other foods and beverages as well. Other dairy products, including cheese and yogurt, can be used to fulfill calcium for children requirements at any age after one year. Children who are old enough to eat solid food may also obtain calcium from broccoli, salmon and oranges. Orange juice also contains calcium, and some varieties are fortified with extra calcium.
Calcium is also found in children's multivitamins. Most of these vitamins do not contain the full amount of calcium necessary for children of any age. Therefore, vitamins should be used for supplementing the intake only. Vitamin D supplements are also advisable for children who do not spend a lot of time in the sun, as this vitamin increases the body's ability to absorb calcium.