A healthy, well balanced diet is so difficult to achieve for adults nowadays, let alone children. Children have an extremely different biology from adults, so it really is not as simple as just feeding your children whatever you eat in smaller portions. Add on the fact that we are now trying to specifically target bone growth for children, and what we are often left with is well meaning parents scratching their heads trying to figure out what to feed their kids.
Well fear not! I will educate you on the matter, and hopefully your children will love you even more for taking care of them(they should)!
1) Calcium from fortified foods
Fortified foods are usually staple foods that you consume such as rice or cereal that have been artificially modified to include additional healthy minerals. Don´t be frightened off by the word artificial though, just because foods do not naturally contain… calcium, does not mean that it is bad that calcium is added to it. Usually fortified foods are made in an attempt to solve public health crises. For example, if the whole population of Singapore is lacking in Vitamin B, would it not make sense to add Vitamin B to food products to prevent malnutrition?
With all that said, look out for calcium that is usually included in some fortified foods. An abundance of calcium is necessary and vital to our bone development, especially for children, whose bones are still growing. Other sources include milk, soy milk, yoghurt, eggs and dark green leafy vegetables. You can consider looking at supplements as well.
2) Vitamin D
Unfortunately it is very difficult to get our daily intake of Vitamin D from food sources. Simply by making sure your child gets some sun once in awhile, there is nothing to worry about, especially in Singapore, where the sun is shining oh so brightly whether you like it or not. Not getting enough sun means that your child would be at risk of depression and osteoporosis.
Those especially at risk are usually the young. You should consider getting Vitamin D supplements(children’s dose) for them, to ensure that they do not suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. If they have been receiving moderate doses of sunlight though, you should not have to worry.
Vitamin D works by promoting calcium absorption in the gut, and also helps to maintain your bones.
3) Vitamin A
This section on Vitamin A is not going to tell you to find sources of Vitamin A, but rather warn you that overconsumption of Vitamin A will lead to hypervitaminosis A. Too much Vitamin A will lead to weaker bones and thus osteoporosis, and can also lead to hair loss. Control your intake of Vitamin A, especially if you like eating livers(hopefully from animals and not humans). Livers are rich in Vitamin A, and I doubt your children would like them anyway.
Magnesium is essential to bone growth just like calcium. Thankfully, it is available in certain types of fortified foods just like calcium, or other sources such as a banana. Bananas are rich in potassium as well and can help with muscle cramps! However, since it is difficult to obtain the necessary daily intake of magnesium, it is recommended that you consider looking at supplements to meet your child’s nutritional needs.
To fully describe the chemical processes that happen that can be attributed to magnesium would be impossible. A myriad of biochemical reactions happen due to magnesium, and one of them happen to be promoting the absorption of calcium and all of this adds up to ensure your bones and teeth are strong and firm.
Something worth mentioning is that excess consumption of calcium without ample amounts of magnesium and excess consumption of magnesium without ample amounts of calcium can actually be detrimental to your bone metabolism and health, and can lead to osteoporosis. Be sure to take both in adequate quantities, as both are essential minerals that are necessary for bone growth and development in your child. Many buy into the rhetoric that is sold to us that as long as we consume calcium we will be fine, but modern day research has clearly and unequivocally shown otherwise.