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Give kids more milk
By Yoon Ja-young
Kids are advised to drink two glasses of milk a day, but most Korean children don’t drink this quantity. Research shows that Korean children suffer from a shortfall of calcium intake, one of the most important nutrients for bone growth.
According to a research led by Prof. Park Mi-jung at Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital on 7,233 children and teenagers, 75 percent lacked an adequate intake of calcium. Among girls, eight out of 10 were found to have this discrepancy.
Calcium requirements rise steeply for young people aged between 12 and 14, usually a period of concentrated growth, but 85.4 percent were found to have insufficient amounts. The dietary intake of half of all infants aged one or two also fell short of the calcium requirement.
School-aged children are required to take in around 700 to 900 milligrams of calcium daily, but the average intake is 510 milligrams for boys and 431 milligrams for girls.
The children gain 35 percent of calcium from milk and other dairy products, followed by green vegetables at 17.3 percent, grains at 11.3 percent, seafood at 9.9 percent and beans at 6.4 percent. The research shows that insufficient consumption of dairy products is responsible for the deficiency, with 23 percent of boys and 13.8 percent of girls not drinking any milk in their weekly diet.
“Koreans drink little milk because many of them have lactose intolerance, which causes tummy-ache when they drink milk,” said Prof. Kim Shin-hye at the growth clinic of the hospital. According to a recent survey by the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 70.3 percent of Koreans are lacking in calcium.
“Calcium is an essential nutrient for optimal growth and development, and appropriate intake of calcium during growth helps a person reach their maximum bone weight during adolescence, which is crucial to the bone health when they become adults. The intake of calcium during childhood and adolescence should be stressed more than ever,” she added.
Prof. Park explained that “when you lack calcium, the calcium stored in bones is released to maintain the calcium level in the blood, making bones weak. It hampers growth and leads to diverse diseases.” She recommended that foods abundant in calcium such as milk and other dairy products, dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, tofu, and Japanese anchovies and sardines should be included in the kids’ diet.
However, she warned against reckless intake of calcium supplements. She added that excessive sodium or animal protein intake increases excretion of calcium, so a balanced diet is crucial.
For adequate intake of calcium, parents should make kids drink around two glasses, or 400 milligrams, of milk, and the rest of the calcium should be supplied by serving them fresh food.
The research was published in the October edition of Public Health Nutrition, an international journal.