by Kristen Bagwell
At lunch yesterday, one of my friends was asking for help because her 14-month old has refused to drink any kind of milk at all. No cow's milk, no formula, nothing. She will occasionally refuse other dairy products, and my friend was trying to figure out what to give baby girl to ensure she was getting the right levels of calcium daily. Kelly, this one's for you!
The American Dietetic Association recommends 1300 mg of calcium daily for kids ages 9 - 18, 1000 mg daily for kids ages 4-8, and 700mg daily for kids ages 1-3. This translates roughly into 2-3 daily servings of dairy for toddlers, 4-5 for elementary kids, and 5-7 for teens and tweens. Breast milk or formula is recommended for infants under age 1, whole milk until age 2, and then low-fat milk products from age 3 on. Eight ounces of milk provides 300mg calcium, but what if your child won't drink milk?
Grains: 3 oz
Vegetables: 1 cup
Fruits: 1 cup
Milk: 2 cups
Meat and beans: 2 ounces
There's that pesky milk again. Milk can include milk products like yogurt and cheese, and a serving is 8 oz of milk or yogurt, or 1.5 oz of cheese (2 oz if the cheese is processed). If none of those items fit the bill, try the following selections:
Calcium-fortified orange juice: 8 oz has the same calcium as a glass of milk (300 mg)
Calcium-fortified tofu: 4 oz has 260 mg
Boiled spinach: 245 mg per cup
Dried figs: 241 mg per cup; 13 mg per fig
Medjool dates: 15 mg per date
1/2 cup collard greens (cooked from frozen): 178 mg calcium
Soybeans (edamame): 175 mg per cup
Okra: 172 mg per cup
Oranges: 52 mg per half cup
4 oz soft-serve ice cream: 120 mg
1/2 cup white beans: 110 mg
Celery: 2 cups contain 81 mg calcium
Soy milk: 1 cup has 80 mg
1 oz almonds: 80 mg (check with your doctor for nut intake recommendations, and never feed whole nuts to kids under age 5)
1/2 cup bok choy: 80 mg
Prunes: 75 mg per cup (also good for "regularity")
Dried apricots: 71 mg per cup (same side bonus as prunes)
4 oz cottage cheese: 70 mg
1/2 cup red beans: 40 mg
1/2 cup cooked broccoli: 40 mg
For kids ages 4-8, the (cow's) milk recommendation is 2-3 cups per day, and for kids 9-18, the recommendation is at least 3 cups per day. If you are a vegetarian or if you'd like your children to follow that eating method, this vegan calcium recommendation chart is quite helpful. Regardless of whether you are vegan or not, there are some good calcium-rich ideas to be found in this listing, which includes a sample daily menu. For example, one serving of hummus on pita bread has 178 mg of calcium - who knew?
If you're struggling to make sure your kids get enough calcium, I hope this information is helpful. For more information on nutrition and eating well, the Academy of visit www.eatright.org.