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Calcium-rich Foods For Babies: Must Know If You’re a New Parent

About 99% calcium of the body is present in bones. Minimal amounts of calcium are present in plasma. So, a baby should get proper nourishment with calcium for their perfect mineralization.

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calcium-rich food for babies

“Is my baby getting enough calcium for its growth? And how can I provide proper calcium to our baby?” These are the questions that every parent asks themselves for growing their child stronger and healthier.

Most parents focus mainly on carbs, proteins, fats and forget about the minerals like calcium.

Well, infants get their calcium from breast milk. But with increasing age, the babies need more calcium-rich foods. These foods can fulfil their requirements.

Usually, a baby should intake 900-1000mg calcium per day. But the total absorption of calcium is 25-40% during the first eight years of their life. (1)

About 99% calcium of the body is present in bones. Minimal amounts of calcium are present in plasma. So, a baby should get proper nourishment with calcium for their perfect mineralization. (2)

But did you know that calcium alone doesn’t function well? We have to feed the babies enough vitamin D along with calcium. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the body, and its scarcity can lead to bone thinness.

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Why do your babies need calcium-rich foods?

Calcium plays a very crucial role in the body. This nutrient is the main ingredient to get stronger bones and teeth. Besides these functions, it also has roles in the proper working of muscles and nerves. It makes the heart stronger and efficient to work and also plays a vital role in blood clotting.

Thus, lack of calcium may lead to several diseases such as rickets. Rickets causes softening of bones with poor growth of bones, muscle pain, and weakness.

Usually, bones are considered the storage of calcium. But our body can not form it. We have to provide some calcium-rich foods in the diet to the babies. If the blood calcium level falls, then the body absorbs calcium from bones. So that muscle and nerve can function well.

Lack of calcium can also cause many problems in the future. As babies grow more in the early stage, lack of calcium may lead to the risk of fracture of bones afterward.

But how does calcium play a role in bone formation?

Calcium doesn’t come from bones alone. Calcium helps collagen in the formation of bones. Collagen is soft, and they cross-link to form a framework. Calcium in calcium phosphate gets added to that framework and makes it stronger and more rigid. Thus, bones formed. (3,4,5)

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Sources of calcium for babies

We know that our body doesn’t produce calcium, and we consume it through our diet. So, we need to take special care while making the diet schedule of babies. Diet must cover all the necessities.

We can provide calcium-rich foods to babies through dairy or non-dairy sources.

Dairy products:

Infants have calcium-rich breast milk. But when babies grow, we can feed them with other kinds of milk, such as cow milk.

Further, you should never provide raw milk to a baby. We can use any formulated calcium added powder to feed the babies along with milk. Other calcium-rich dairy food products are yogurt and hard cheeses like cheddar. (5)

One cup of milk contains 300mg of calcium which is a fair percentage. Yogurt contains more calcium as compared to milk. One cup of yogurt approximately contains 450mg of calcium. Cheddar or the hard cheese has almost 200 mg in 1oz of weight. (6)

Non-dairy products:

Non-dairy food products include vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, grains, fishes, etc. When your baby starts eating solid foods, you can give them boiled vegetables, grains, or blended fruits.

Now let’s have a look at the calcium-rich food groups with their quantities:

Food GroupsCalcium Content
Vegetables
1cup of cooked broccoli180mg
1cup of cooked spinach240mg
Fruits
Orange juice from concentrate20mg per 1 cup
Orange juice calcium-fortified300mg per 8oz
Legumes
Soybeans (boiled)100mg in 0.5 cup
Tofu, calcium set250-750 mg in 4oz
Grains
Calcium-fortified Cereals250-1000mg in 0.5-1 cup
Calcium-fortified bread150-200mg in 1 slice
Nuts and seeds
Sesame seeds whole roasted280mg in 1oz

Usually, babies depend on dairy products to fulfill their calcium requirements. But in some cases, the babies can not consume dairy products as their calcium source. Babies suffering from lactose intolerance and milk allergy prefer non-dairy products.

Milk contains the carbohydrate lactose. Those who can’t digest lactose due to lower lactase enzyme levels in their intestine are considered lactose intolerant.

If your baby is allergic to milk, then you can feed him with alternatives like soy milk. There are many hypoallergenic formulated products available in the market for these milk allergic babies. (4)

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Symptoms of calcium deficiency in a baby

Many babies face calcium deficiency as most parents focus only on the carbs, protein, and fats in the diet. They ignore the mineral quantity.

When the babies lack calcium, we call the condition hypocalcemia. Usually, babies do not show any symptoms of hypocalcemia. But sometimes, babies become unable to relax, and they start shivering. In some rare cases, they also suffer from seizures with slow heart rate and low blood pressure.

To examine hypocalcemia, doctors do the blood test of the baby. The only treatment for this deficiency is to get extra calcium supplements. (7)

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Side effects of excess calcium intake in babies

We should take a balanced diet with all nutrients. But sometimes, parents provide excess calcium in the curiosity of providing enough minerals. No doubt, calcium deficiency is harmful to health; however, excess calcium also causes harmful effects.

Moreover, your baby can suffer from constipation and discomfort due to excess calcium.

Sometimes, excess calcium interferes with the body’s ability to absorb iron and zinc. Even at a later age, excess calcium intake may lead to kidney stones and heart diseases. (8)

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Final Words

Everyone cares for their babies. But sometimes, we miss some significant nutrients.

In this article, we have provided varieties of calcium-rich foods. You can choose any food according to your availability.

If you notice any calcium deficiency symptoms, consult the physician before providing any random calcium supplements. Don’t rush to feed your baby with many nutrients; otherwise, the excess quantities may cause harm.

Keep an eye on the milk allergy of your babies before providing any dairy-based calcium-rich foods. Never forget that a balanced diet is a healthy diet. Do not ignore any nutrients while prioritizing others.

References:

  1. Abrams, S. (2010). Calcium Absorption in Infants and Small Children: Methods of Determination and Recent Findings. Nutrients, 2(4), 474-480. doi: 10.3390/nu2040474
  2. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/104/5/1152
  3. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/what-is-bone
  4. https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Patients-Families/Health-Library/HealthDocNew/Calcium-and-Your-Child
  5. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/calcium.html
  6. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/calcium-content-of-foods
  7. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007229.htm
  8. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/#h8

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