Calcium is good for bone health is a long known fact, and the more the children have it the better for them. This is now supported by a recent study published in the journal Bone. The food sources that are rich in the mineral are milk and diary products.

Calcium rich foods “Dairy and other foods that are rich in calcium are thought to be important for the growth and strengthening of bones in children and adolescents,” said Michael Huncharek MD, MPH, Director of the Meta-Analysis Research Group and lead author of the study.

“In the US, dairy products tend to be the preferred source of calcium since diets that exclude dairy are often deficient in this important nutrient. The new findings show that for those children who have inadequate calcium intake, increasing dietary calcium has a significant impact on bone development. Since most children don’t get enough calcium, meeting calcium recommendations may help to prevent future osteoporosis.”

The study was aimed at the finding an evidence for the fact. Researchers analysed data that was collected from 21 clinical trials conducted randomly. The trials were conducted on 3,800 children to find out how the calcium from the diet assimilates in the bone.

The children participating in the study were categorized as the one who did not take adequate amounts of dietary calcium and the ones who consumed enough amount of the mineral from before the study was conducted. After the former group was made to consume enough calcium rich foods it was found to have 25 times more BMC (bone mineral content) than in the latter group. BMC is regarded as the marker for bone strength in children. Therefore, it is obvious that with the increased BMC, the bone health also increased.

“The evaluation of randomized controlled trials was critical to understand the effects of calcium and dairy on children’s bone health,” noted Joshua Muscat, Ph.D., Professor of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and co-author of this study. “The literature has been unclear in this area because of the different ways researchers have measured bone health or inconclusive because many studies examined the effects of supplementation in children who were already consuming adequate amounts of dairy foods.”

“It’s never too early to make bone health a priority. These findings continue to support the research that shows milk is an important source of calcium which helps build and maintain strong bones, muscles and teeth in children,” said Ann Marie Krautheim, R.D., senior vice president of Nutrition Affairs for the National Dairy Council. “Consuming 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods each day gives children not only the calcium they need, but also eight other essential nutrients, including potassium, phosphorus and protein.”

The study also aims to alarm the adolescent and child population in US that does not display the daily recommended calcium intake. It has been estimated by USDA that as much as 7 out of 10 boys and 9 out of 10 girls do not consume required amount of calcium. It has been suggested that a healthy diet must atleast consist of 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods each day as per the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Enough calcium intakes can reduce the risk of diseases like osteoporosis.