Tweens, Teens, and Calcium | Health Eagle

Tweens, Teens, and Calcium

by Editorial Team December 10th, 2010 | Children's Health
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If you watch most classic ’50s television shows, you might notice the beverage all family members drink at dinner- milk.  While many families still encourage milk as the beverage of choice with younger children, it tends to be a beverage that’s popularity fades with time.  While it’s not scientific data, most of the families with teens and tweens that I know aren’t consuming milk with dinner, and probably not any other meals either. While they may choose healthy alternatives, such as water, they are reducing their intake of calcium.  So, what’s a parent to do?

First, arm yourself with data.  How much calcium does a tween or teen need?  According to Joanna Dolgoff, M.D., pediatrician, official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, child and adolescent obesity specialist, and Author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right, children between the ages of nine and eighteen need 1,300 mg of calcium per day.

Second, learn how to use that data correctly.  While food labels state the percent daily value, those labels are not designed for children or teens.  Dr. Dolgoff explains, “The percent daily value on the nutrition label is based on an adult’s needs and do not accurately reflect a child’s.”  While teens and tweens need 1,300 mg, adults only need 1,000 mg.  Thus, when reading labels, you should read the number of milligrams per serving as opposed to the daily percent.

Third, find a variety of ways to provide calcium without enduring the, “Drink your milk” battle.  Carol Frazey, M.S., of the Fit School Inc., offers this list of alternatives:

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese=669mg
1 cup plain, low fat yogurt=415mg
1 cup cooked rhubarb=348mg
8 oz fat free milk=306mg
1 cup spinach, frozen, cooked, and drained=291mg
1 oz provolone cheese=214mg
1 oz mozzarella cheese, part skim milk=207mg
3 oz canned pink salmon with bones=181mg
1 cup 1% fat cottage cheese=138mg
3 oz canned shrimp=123mg

Fourth, make it a team effort.  Talk with your teen or tween, and share all of your information, including the amount of calcium he needs to consume and options for reaching that amount.  Together you can draft a grocery list and meal plan that will help him reach his goals.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.