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Published on June 27, 2011

Tweens & Teens Need Calcium Now More Than Ever!

June 27, 2011

It takes calcium to build strong bones. So calcium is especially important during the tween and teen years, when bones are growing their fastest. Ages 11 to 15 are a time when fast-growing bones need calcium. Unfortunately, most boys and girls are not getting the calcium they need.

Boys and girls in these age groups have calcium needs that they can’t make up for later in life. In fact, by the time teens finish their growth spurts around age 17, ninety percent of their adult bone mass is established.

Unfortunately, fewer than one in ten girls and only one in four boys ages 9 to 13 are at or above their adequate intake of calcium. This lack of calcium has a big impact on bones and teeth.

How much calcium do kids need? 

Tweens and teens can get most of their daily calcium from:

  • three cups of low-fat or fat-free milk (900 mg of calcium), AND
  • additional servings of calcium-rich foods to get the 1,300 mg of calcium necessary to build strong bones for life.

Starting around age nine, young people need almost twice as much calcium as younger kids.

What are good sources of calcium? 

Milk isn't the only way for tweens and teens to get the calcium they need every day. Lots of calcium-rich foods are available to help them get the 1,300 mg of calcium they need every day.


Sources of Calcium


Food

Milligrams (mg)
per serving

Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces

415

Sardines, canned in oil, with bones, 3 ounces

324

Cheddar cheese, 1.5 ounces

306

Milk, nonfat, 8 ounces

302

Milk, reduced-fat (2% milk fat), 8 ounces

297

Milk, lactose-reduced, 8 ounces**

285–302

Milk, whole (3.25% milk fat), 8 ounces

291

Milk, buttermilk, 8 ounces

285

Mozzarella, part skim, 1.5 ounces

275

Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces

245–384

Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 6 ounces

200–260

Tofu, firm, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup***

204

Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone, 3 ounces

181

Pudding, chocolate, instant, made with 2% milk, ½ cup

153

Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat, 1 cup unpacked

138

Tofu, soft, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup***

138

Spinach, cooked, ½ cup

120

Ready-to-eat cereal, calcium-fortified, 1 cup

100–1,000

Instant breakfast drink, various flavors and brands, powder prepared with water, 8 ounces

105–250

Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve, ½ cup

103

Turnip greens, boiled, ½ cup

99

Kale, cooked, 1 cup

94

Kale, raw, 1 cup

90

Ice cream, vanilla, ½ cup

85

Soy beverage, calcium-fortified, 8 ounces

80–500

Chinese cabbage, raw, 1 cup

74

Tortilla, corn, ready-to-bake/fry, 1 medium

42

Tortilla, flour, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6" diameter

37

Sour cream, reduced fat, cultured, 2 tablespoons

32

Bread, white, 1 ounce

31

Broccoli, raw, ½ cup

21

Bread, whole-wheat, 1 slice

20

Cheese, cream, regular, 1 tablespoon

12

Experts report that the best way to get calcium is by eating calcium-rich foods. An alternative way to get calcium is to take calcium supplements.

Source: National Institutes of HealthNational Institutes of HealthNational Institutes of Health

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