Kids grow up so fast…and as parents we often ask: “Where does the time go?”
To better understand and appreciate the growth and development process, we want to take a closer look at all the beautiful changes occurring right under our nose.
The four main growth and development periods for children are: Infancy (birth to 2 years), early childhood (3 to 8 years), middle childhood (9 to 11 years), and adolescence (12 to 18 years). Factors that contribute to and impact every step of the way are diet, parenting approach, social and cultural practices, environment, exercise, and genetics. Each of these issues affect how a child grows and develops physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes that healthy eating during childhood and adolescence is essential for proper growth and development. However, as many of us parents know, the majority of children don’t follow proper Dietary Guidelines, which includes eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, oils, and fat-free and low-fat dairy while also limiting unhealthy fats, sugars, and sodium.
Kids who adopt a healthy diet are more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, get the essential nutrients they need, and reduce their risk of developing serious health problems. Some of those potential problems include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, iron deficiency, and cavities.
A few other tips for optimal growth and development are daily exercise (one hour per day), a smoke-free environment, use of seat belts and helmets, regular health checkups, lots of love and support, and nutritional supplements.
Magnesium, calcium, and your child
Among the many essential nutrients children and adolescents need are magnesium and calcium. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, magnesium may be as essential as calcium for the growth and development of children, and it goes beyond bone and teeth health.
For example, healthy magnesium levels are important for relaxation and calm moods in children. The mineral works with both N-methyl-D-aspartate and gamma-aminobutyric acid to produce a calming effect as well as help with sleep. Children who experience significant stress have a need for additional magnesium.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of magnesium for children is:
- 80 mg ages 1 to 3 years
- 130 mg ages 4 to 8 years
- 240 mg ages 9 to 13 years
- 360 mg ages 14 to 18 for females and 410 mg for males
Calcium is necessary for nerve and muscle function and to help release enzymes and hormones. If a child’s blood calcium levels are too low, the body takes the mineral from the bones to compensate. Therefore, getting enough calcium is critical. Here’s a quick breakdown of calcium needs:
- 700 mg ages 1 to 3 years
- 1,000 mg ages 4 to 8 years
- 1,300 mg ages 9 to 18 years
Kids can get magnesium from green leafy vegetables, beans and legumes, seeds, whole grains, and nuts. Great sources of calcium include low-fat milk, fortified plant-based beverages, almonds, kale, navy beans, sesame, and yogurt. However, our western diet is wrought with processed and fast foods, sodas, and too much salt, so it’s important for parents to focus on nutritious options rich in calcium and magnesium.
Supplementing with calcium and magnesium
Taking a calcium and magnesium supplement is an effective and convenient way to ensure our kids get enough of these essential minerals. While getting them to eat spinach and kale may be a challenge, a good tasting liquid supplement can go down easily.
Look for a supplement that also contains vitamin D and zinc, as these two nutrients help support healthy bone growth and development but are often lacking in today’s diet. Always check the label to ensure there are no artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives, as these are not only unnecessary but can be harmful to your child.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to convince children to eat the most nutritious foods. You can help ensure your child grows and develops in a healthy way by offering a good tasting supplement that provides essential calcium and magnesium, just like nature intended.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Magnesium may be as important to kids’ bone health as calcium. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2013.
Childhood nutrition facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Calcium and your child
Medline Plus. Child development
Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. The importance of magnesium in clinical healthcare. Scientifica 2017:4179326