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Are calcium supplements good for children?

Q: I read recently that it is good to give additional calcium supplements to adolescent children, to coincide with the growth spurt at this period in their lives, and the strengthening of the bones, if it takes place at this period, will last a life time. My 13 year old daughter does not take milk (she cannot tolerate it) but some curd every day. Would you recommend that I give her calcium tablets every day, and if so, for how long?

A:For adolescents, the idea is to encourage good bone development and peak bone mass. Although there is good evidence for an important relationship between the amount of calcium intake during the teen years and the development for good bone structure, there is no definitive evidence yet that supplementation during these years will actually increase the eventual bone mass achieved. Most studies suggest that if calcium is supplemented only for relatively short periods (ie, 1 to 2 years), there may not be long-term benefits to establishing and maintaining a maximum peak bone mass. This emphasizes the importance of diet in achieving adequate calcium intake and in establishing dietary patterns consistent with a calcium intake near recommended levels throughout childhood and adolescence. Include calcium rich foods in her diet. These include milk, cheese, curds, ice-creams, paneer, corn, eggs, soyabeans, etc.

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