In stages of intense growth, such as early childhood and adolescence, the contribution of calcium in the children's diet is key to ensuring that the bones are strong and that the growth rate is adequate.
Calcium is an essential mineral in the diet and plays a very important role in the growth of children.
The bioavailability of calcium, that is, the amount of a nutrient that is absorbed and used with respect to the total consumed in the diet, can be altered by the presence of other nutrients, and must be taken into account when ensuring the adequate contribution. They have negative effects:
- Fiber can cause malabsorption of some minerals, not only calcium, but also iron, zinc and magnesium, facilitating their elimination in the feces and can lead to mineral deficiencies.
- Phytates and phytic acid are substances found in cereals, and its behavior in the body can also exert an effect similar to that of fiber. These substances have a high chelating power, that is, they attract metals and include them within their structure, so that they are no longer available to cells, it is as if they were not.
- Caffeine also compromises the absorption of calcium. Although it is not a problem in childhood (since it is not consumed or should not be consumed), it can be in adolescence, since young people may be interested in caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, and especially cola drinks ).
- High concentrations of phosphorus and sodium they can reduce the availability of calcium and increase the loss of bone mass and the risk of bone breakage, especially if the calcium intake in the diet is low.
- Positive effects on the absorption of calcium for the growth of children can be achieved with vitamin D, whose role in bone mineralization is prominent. This vitamin favors the intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and also increases their reabsorption at the renal level, so that, if vitamin D and calcium are combined in the same food, maximum use is achieved.
- As well vitamin K plays a role in bone development, since it participates in the metabolism of some calcium-binding proteins, so its presence ensures that they work correctly, strengthening the structure of the bones.
- Calcium is better absorbed in the presence of lactose, vitamin D and an adequate calcium / phosphorus ratio, and this occurs naturally, in milk and dairy products. In addition, in many cases, these are fortified with calcium, and / or supplemented with other vitamins that collaborate in their use.
If dairy products are not consumed due to allergies, intolerances or simply because they want to avoid it, it is advisable to make sure that the child gets its calcium intake from other foods such as broccoli, spinach, canned sardines, nuts or legumes such as soybeans, for example. Some examples.
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