Why does calcium excess make children have short stature?
Calcium is a very important element in human life, accounting for a large number of bones, teeth, toenails, and fingernails. It also strengthens the immune system and participates in the elasticity of muscle cells and coagulation. Plus, it is a major component in the formation of bones and teeth in young children. If children suffer from calcium deficiency, they will grow slowly and be stunted.
The process of premature bone aging will cause many bone defects in children
However, the excessive supply of calcium to the body also causes adverse impacts on health. When the body receives too much calcium, high levels of calcium in the blood can enter the bones, which can lead to premature bone stiffness and restriction in bone development. The ossified bones will make children stop growing taller and become shorter than their peers. Premature bone aging is the cause of the risk of a series of bone defects in children, such as curvature of the spine, humpback, flat chest, bow legs, etc.
The increased intake of calcium causes the kidneys to work continuously to boost the excretion of calcium through the urine. If this condition persists, it can easily lead to diseases such as ureteral stones and kidney stones. Having too much calcium hinders the process of absorption of other micronutrients, especially iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus, and causes malnutrition or illness in children. Calcium excess also causes gastrointestinal disturbances, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and frequent constipation.
What are the symptoms and signs of calcium excess?
Hypercalcemia may sound like a complex medical term, but its symptoms can be quite noticeable when you know what to look for. Here is how you can identify hypercalcemia in your child.
- Digestive distress: Keep an eye out for tummy troubles, like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These can be early indicators of calcium excess.
- Excessive thirst and urination: If your child seems to be drinking more fluids than usual and making more trips to the bathroom, it could be a sign of hypercalcemia.
- Fatigue and weakness: Does your child seem more tired than usual, even after a good night's sleep? Fatigue and weakness are common symptoms of calcium excess.
While some symptoms may be mild, others can be more pronounced.
- Mood changes: Keep an eye on your child's mood and behavior. Irritability, confusion, and even depression can be linked to calcium excess.
- Muscle aches and pains: Unexplained muscle aches or pains, particularly in the legs and arms, can be a sign that something is not quite right.
- Bone pain: In some cases, hypercalcemia can lead to bone pain or discomfort, which can affect your child's overall well-being.
If you suspect any issues, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and support. Your child's well-being is always a top priority!
How to prevent calcium excess in children?
Promote healthy eating habits
The foundation for preventing calcium excess begins with promoting healthy eating habits:
- Balanced diet: Encourage a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of food groups. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to ensure a diverse nutrient intake.
- Portion control: Teach your child the importance of portion control. While calcium-rich foods are essential, moderation is key.
- Avoid over-supplementation: Consult with a healthcare provider before introducing calcium supplements. In most cases, a balanced diet should provide sufficient calcium for your child's needs.
Calcium-rich foods in moderation
Calcium-rich foods are a valuable part of a child's diet, but they should be enjoyed in moderation:
- Dairy deliberation: Dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt, are excellent sources of calcium. But not to overdo it. Encourage your child to consume dairy in appropriate portions.
- Dairy alternatives: Explore calcium-rich alternatives for children who may be lactose intolerant or prefer non-dairy options. Options, like fortified almond milk or leafy greens, can provide the necessary calcium.
- Varied sources: Broaden the spectrum of calcium sources in your child's diet. Include foods, such as tofu, fortified cereals, and nuts, to diversify their nutrient intake.
Encourage physical activities and sunlight exposure
A well-balanced lifestyle plays a significant role in preventing calcium excess:
- Physical activity: Encourage regular physical activity, as exercise helps regulate calcium metabolism. Joining sports or outdoor activities supports healthy growth and development.
- Sunlight exposure: Adequate sunlight exposure is essential for vitamin D synthesis, which, in turn, aids calcium absorption. Ensure your child spends some time outdoors, but take precautions to protect their skin from excessive sun exposure.
- Hydration: Encourage your child to stay hydrated, as proper hydration helps maintain calcium balance in the body.
How to add proper calcium supplementation in children?
Parents should pay attention to the age of their children to add proper calcium supplementation
The body's calcium requirements vary with age and primarily depend on bone development in each individual. According to WHO, the calcium requirements of children will vary with the following stages:
Children under 6 months old need 300 mg calcium/day; children from 7 to 12 months old: 400 mg/day; children from 1 to 3 years old: 700 - 1000 mg/day; children from 4 to 8 years old: 1000 mg/day; children from 9 to 13 years old: 1300 mg/day; children from 14 to 18 years old: 1300 - 1400 mg/day.
How to balance dietary calcium and supplements?
Access dietary calcium intake
Start by evaluating your child's dietary calcium intake. Keep a record of their daily meals and snacks for a week. Identify calcium-rich sources, like dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), leafy greens, fortified cereals, and nuts. Calculate their daily intake to get a baseline.
Diversify the menu
Variety is key. Introduce a diverse range of calcium-rich foods into your child's diet. Yes, dairy products are classic sources but also consider non-dairy options. Tofu, fortified almond milk, and leafy greens, such as broccoli and kale, can provide a nutritional boost.
Teach your child about portion control. While calcium-rich foods are essential, overindulging can lead to excess intake. Balance is about moderation, so emphasize appropriate serving sizes.
Take proper dosages
If supplements are recommended, ensure you follow the pediatrician's advice regarding dosage. Avoid self-prescribing over-the-counter supplements, as they may not be tailored to your child's needs.
While calcium is undeniably crucial for strong bones and overall development, excessive intake can lead to unintended consequences. It is a reminder that, in the realm of child health, understanding the delicate equilibrium between nutrition, lifestyle, and medical guidance is paramount.