Teen Girls and Calcium Deficiency

According to a 2010 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, 86% of teen girls do not get enough calcium in their daily diets. While you may believe calcium is just a concern for older women, most are surprised to learn that teen girls actually require more calcium per day than even their mother or grandmothers. Calcium plays an important role in strengthening bones and teeth, as well as helping muscles (including the heart) and nerves function properly. With 95% of peak bone mass present by age 20, experts in bone health agree that getting the proper amount of daily calcium during these adolescent years is crucial.

How much calcium is necessary for teens?

The recommended amount of calcium for a girl 9-18 years old is 1300 milligrams (mg). To compare, it is 1000 mg for women 19-50 years of age. Click here for a calcium recommendation chart for all ages.

My teen already takes a multivitamin. Isn’t she getting enough calcium?

Many multivitamins provide only 20-30% of the recommended amount of daily calcium. Your teen will likely need to increase her calcium intake even if she takes a multivitamin, either through foods that are richer in calcium or by taking a calcium supplement such as VIACTIV® Calcium Soft Chews. If your teen is taking a multivitamin, speak to your pediatrician about the recommended additional intake of calcium.

How can I help my teenage daughter get additional calcium through her diet?

There are many calcium boosters that you can include in your teen’s diet to help her reach the recommended daily amount of calcium. A cup of low-fat chocolate milk at breakfast will add about 300 mg of calcium daily. Low-fat string cheese is also a crowd favorite and an easy way to add another 150 mg of calcium per stick. A fruit smoothie made with one cup of low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit can add almost 375 mg.

Two of the #1 doctor-recommended VIACTIV® Calcium Soft Chews provide teens with almost 80% of their daily value of calcium (500 mg each/1000 mg total), plus vitamins D and K, and are intended to help achieve recommended daily dietary levels of these nutrients. Available in chocolate or caramel, each chew is individually wrapped, making it easy to toss into a gym bag, purse, or lunch bag.

Are there foods my teen should try to avoid to maximize her daily calcium intake?

Calcium zappers are everywhere and moderation is important for calcium absorption to be at its best. Soda and other carbonated soft drinks loaded with caffeine can interfere with absorption of the calcium she may be getting throughout the day.9 Snacks such as chips, pretzels, and crackers are loaded with sodium, which can deplete calcium stored in the body when levels are too high. White bread, popcorn, and other processed foods can be high in oxalates,10 which can impact calcium negatively.

Some healthier foods are the culprits of depleting calcium, too. Foods high in phosphorus, such as peanut butter, corn, sunflower seeds, and even garlic, can lower calcium absorption due to their lack of vitamin D.11

Why are vitamins D and K also found in VIACTIV® Calcium Soft Chews? Is this important for teens?

Like calcium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency is also prevalent in teens. According to a 2009 Pediatrics study, 9% of people ages 1 through 21–about 7.6 million children, adolescents, and young adults–have vitamin D levels so low they could be considered deficient, while an additional 61%–50.8 million–have higher levels that are still low enough to be insufficient.12

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and vitamin K helps aid in the formation of bone proteins. Vitamins D and K, found in VIACTIV® Calcium Soft Chews, work synergistically to increase bone mineral density and modulate bone metabolism while positively affecting calcium balance.

Do calcium intake recommendations change with age?

While you need calcium throughout your life, the amount you need most definitely changes over time. Calcium is critical for teens during their growing years to build strong bones, and important for middle-aged and older adults to prevent bone loss.