Growing strong, healthy bones

School-aged kids 5 to 12 have special calcium requirements

Children are adults under construction. So, their dietary needs are different from those of adults. Their diet must be geared for growth and normal development. In addition to proteins and fats, the diet must contain crucial vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and D, as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorous.

Milk naturally contains protein, vitamins A and D, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc, plus nine other nutrients. At 85 percent water, milk is also a naturally hydrating beverage. Calcium plays a central role in building and supporting bone growth and keeping bones and teeth healthy. Vitamin D is essential to the assimilation and use of calcium and phosphorous. Magnesium plays a role in energy metabolism, tissue formation, and bone development. Phosphorous plays a role in the formation and maintenance of good muscle contractions – including those of the heart. It helps regulate blood pressure and promotes wound healing.

Milk is an optimal food for meeting a great deal of the recommended daily allowances of these nutrients that are essential to children’s growth and normal development. One cup (250 ml) of milk naturally contains 30 percent of the recommended daily calcium intake. And supplementing with vitamin D provides 45 percent of its daily allowance. Yogurt and cheese are also natural sources of calcium. Other foods naturally contain calcium, but their content is lower unless the product has been enriched, as bread and soy-based beverages are. You can meet your calcium needs without consuming dairy products, but you’ll have to be much more careful, because dairy contains it naturally and in good quantity. The best way to make sure you’re really meeting a child’s nutritional needs is to offer her a varied and balanced diet.


Fact Box

Did you know?

According to a 2012 study by Health Canada, the diet of children aged 4 to 8 does not meet the daily requirement for vitamin D, calcium, or, to a lesser degree, phosphorous and fibre.


Foods which are high in calcium

Food Serving size Calcium per serving
Milk 250 ml 300 mg
Enriched bread 17 g 300 mg
Sardine with bones 85 g 350 mg
Yoghurt 175 g 300 mg
Cheddar cheese 42 g 303 mg
Enriched soy beverage 250 ml 300 mg
White beans 125 ml 113 mg
Broccoli 125 ml 35 mg


Emilie Laurin is the leader of the innovation solution and breakthrough team for dairy categories at Agropur.