Calcium is an important nutrient for growing babies and children. In fact, an expecting mother’s calcium requirements increase to help both her body and the needs of the developing fetus. Calcium, in conjunction with vitamin D, plays a crucial role in the development of strong, healthy bones and teeth. Often associated with dairy, calcium can be tricky to get as a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance is common – especially for those with celiac disease or other food intolerances. Since this is a common question amongst our Mum Mum’s fans, here are 8 dairy free ways to get calcium:
Children aged 1-3 need 500 milligrams of calcium per day. Starting at preschool age (4-8) the calcium needs increase to 800 milligrams a day. One can get 500 mg from about 2 glasses of milk, or 800 mg from 3 glasses of milk.
So, what happens if your child has a milk allergy, is lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply doesn’t like to drink milk? There are plenty of foods that can provide calcium without the dairy and it is good to keep a variety of these foods rotating in your daily diet.
1. “Milk″ alternatives: Many milk substitutes are fortified with calcium and vitamin D that equate the same amounts in a glass of milk. Soy, rice, and almond milks can each have 100 to 200mg of calcium per serving, but be sure to read the labels to ensure they are fortified with calcium as not all brands are.
2. Greens: Dark leafy greens can be a great source of calcium. The highest calcium content is found in collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, and swiss chard. Although not leafy, broccoli is a green that is also loaded with calcium.
3. Fortified Juices: Many juices are now calcium fortified; an 8oz glass of fortified orange juice can provide about 350mg of calcium. Make sure the label says 100% juice to ensure optimum nutrient content, and limit to one serving of juice daily.
4. Beans: Garbanzo and pinto beans are calcium packed in addition to soybeans.
5. Grains: Amaranth and buckwheat are excellent sources of calcium plus they are gluten free.
6. Tofu: Tofu is one of the highest non-dairy sources of calcium but only if the tofu is set with calcium sulfate. Note: Do not consume tofu if your child has a soy allergy.
7. Seeds: Both sesame and flax seeds are packed with calcium.
8. Nuts: Brazil nuts and almonds are excellent sources of calcium. Try switching to almond butter instead of peanuts if your child does not have a nut allergy.