It’s critical for babies 6 to 12 months old to meet their calcium requirements because skeletal growth and development is at its most rapid during infancy. Calcium’s role in child development doesn’t stop there, however. In fact, as children grow older, they need to increase their calcium intake to meet bodily demands other than bone development.
It’s alarming, then, to find out that Filipino kids today aren’t getting enough of this mineral. According to the Sixth National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI-RENI) last 2004, calcium intake has been drastically decreasing by age group. Children ages 6 months to 5 years consume only an average 73.4% of their daily calcium needs, with soda ranking number 15 in their list of most commonly consumed food items.
Calcium’s Primary Role Bone formation is a gradual process starting from infancy to age 30, when peak bone mass is achieved. Since bone loss is also a gradual process, the stronger the bones are at age 30, the more bone loss will be delayed. That’s why it’s important to get enough calcium throughout infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Aimee Barrion, professor of nutrition at the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, reveals, “Inadequate intake of calcium is associated with rickets for children and osteomalacia for adults. Both illnesses are characterized by softening of the bones. Bones become fragile, which results in skeletal deformities.” Lack of calcium also poses a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures from weakened bones.
The body contains about three pounds of calcium: 99 percent is stored in the bones and teeth while the remaining one percent is found throughout the body in the blood, muscles, and fluid between cells. If blood calcium levels are low due to poor calcium intake, calcium is taken from the bones to ensure normal cell function.
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