You’ve probably heard plenty about Calcium over the years. It’s widely known that “them bones need calcium” and that milk is the best way to get it. That’s absolutely true - but what if your child has a dairy allergy?
It’s recommended that children aged 5-8 years include 3 portions of dairy foods everyday and that jumps to 5 portions each day for children aged 9-12 and teenagers. This is mainly due to the fact that milk cheese and yoghurts are good sources of calcium. So if your child is dairy free (or even if they simply don’t eat enough dairy foods) here are some tips to help include other sources of calcium in their diet.
Why is calcium so important for children?
Calcium is important for everybody to help maintain healthy bones. But it is particularly important to get a good supply during childhood as the bones are growing and developing. Making sure that they get enough now will really stand to them for their whole lives –significantly reducing the risk of osteoporosis in later life as 50% of lifelong bone mineral density is laid down between the ages of 9-18.
Calcium is mostly known for its key role in bone health but it also has a few other benefits including being important for healthy teeth, healthy muscle function and to help the body produce energy from food.
How can I make sure my child is getting enough?
Between the ages of 5-8 years they need roughly 800mg of calcium per day and between the ages of 9-18 they need 1300mg – which is even more than an adult’s requirement of 1000mg per day.
For children who don’t consume dairy, this is one of the main nutrients that you need to make an extra conscious effort to include at every meal.Here are some ideas:
Our BFree Pitta Pockets are suitable for those dealing with multiple allergies and intolerances – they are dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free and nut free but best of all they are HIGH in calcium! Just one mini pitta contains 83mg of calcium. They are the perfect size for little hands to pick up and make a great addition to any lunch box. For some recipe inspiration have a look here
Fortified foods – there are many other varieties of foods which have calcium added to them. Some of these include fortified soy milk & yoghurts (if soy can be tolerated), fortified orange juices or fortified tofu. Just check the labels to see what the calcium content is and to check for any other allergens.
Oranges – one large orange has roughly 58mg of calcium.
Tinned salmon and baked beans also contain roughly 50-60mg of calcium per serving (check the label of the particular brands for other allergens).
Leafy green vegetables (like broccoli, kale & spinach – every child’s favourite!). We’re not suggesting you serve up a plate of spinach but by getting creative you can sneak in small calcium boosts in other ways. If you’re making a homemade tomato pasta sauce for dinner blend through some spinach, try some broccoli trees dipped in yummy hummus as a snack or roast some kale “crisps” flavoured with herbs, spices or lemon juice. One cup of kale has about 100mg of calcium while one cup of broccoli would have around 43mg.
Making small additions to every meal of the day can really help to boost your child’s overall calcium intake – supporting their developing bones now and for their future.