Raising a dairy-free child may seem impossible to many parents but whether the reason is food allergy or lifestyle choice. Conventional doctors will even try to pressure parents into feeding their children milk – saying that they need their calcium for strong bones.
It is true that growing children do need calcium for strong bones – but they do not need to get it from dairy. There is abundance of calcium rich foods to choose from, many of which are better absorbed by the body than dairy.
How Much Calcium Do They Need?
In general, children 1-3 years need 700 mg of calcium per day, children 4-8 years need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and children 9 to 18 years need 1,300 mg of calcium per day.
SOURCES OF CALCIUM
Below are some of the best sources of calcium, coming both from dairy and dairy free products. I provide an approximate amount of calcium for each food because of how it is grown, raised, or processed.
Dairy: (Choose organic from grass fed animals)
8oz of yogurt = around 400 mg
1.5 ounces of cheddar cheese = around 300 mg
8 ounces of milk = around 300 mg
½ cup vanilla ice cream = around 100 mg
Non-dairy foods fortified with calcium: (these numbers reflect the amount of calcium added to the foods, however – the body does not absorb added calcium as well as naturally occurring calcium)
8oz fortified soy, rice or almond milk = around 300 mg
8oz fortified orange juice = around 270 mg
½ cup tofu made with calcium sulfate = around 250 mg
1 cup of ready-to-eat fortified cereal = 100-1000 mg
Non-dairy foods with naturally occurring calcium: (My top picks!)
3 oz sardines, canned in oil, with bones = around 300 mg
3 oz pink salmon, canned, with bones = around 180 mg
1 cup cooked turnip greens = around 250 mg
1 cup raw kale = around 100 mg
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses = 400 mg
1 cup cooked collard greens = around 350 mg
1 cup of broccoli – 180 mg
1 cup of bock choy, cooked = around 150 mg
2 tablespoons of tahini = around 130 mg
1 cup of navy beans, cooked = around 120 mg
2 tablespoons of almond butter = around 100 mg
As you can see, it is pretty easy to get in plenty of calcium and still remain dairy free. Get creative – make kale chips, wraps with collard greens, celery sticks and almond butter… the kids will love it and you will rest assured that they will grow up healthy and strong.