After years of being a voracious milk drinker, my oldest daughter has taken to sipping mostly water. On the surface, this may seem nothing to worry about since water is essential for proper body functions, especially during the summertime. My cause for concern was more about her calcium intake, and the August issue of Parents’ magazine shed some light on my worries.
As the article highlights, almost 15 percent of college-age women have the beginning signs of osteoporosis. Since Isabella is only 8 years old, I figure we’re not too late to get her back on track. At her age, the recommended daily amount of calcium is 800 mg for kids 4 to 8 years old (after that, you should boost their daily intake to 1,300 mg). Sounds easy enough if she drinks 2 cups of milk and eats 1 string cheese a day as suggested in the article, but what happens when your kids lose their taste for milk? What about kids who are allergic to dairy, as is the case with one of Isabella’s friends? If you’re in the same boat, relax knowing you can still make sure your kids are getting all the calcium they need.
- Calcium-fortified juices. Water is always the best choice for hydration, but if you do allow your kids to drink orange juice, opt for a calcium-fortified one.
- Shake things up. Even non-milk drinkers can’t resist a fruity smoothie. Add your child’s favorite fruit to a blender with some yogurt for a quick, healthy breakfast or snack on the go. The yogurt is a double win, since they’ll get their calcium with a protein boost too.
- Surprising sources of calcium. Leafy greens like spinach are a great natural serving of calcium, but it’s not always the veggie of choice for most kids. Kale chips are an easier sell, and they’re packed with also almost 100 mg per cup. Try this recipe for homemade sweet cinnamon kale chips. Hummus, another kid favorite, has around 60 mg of calcium. Almonds add a boost too, with a ½ ounce weighing in with 38 mg. And if your kids love broccoli as much as mine, find comfort knowing there’s 47 mg in just one ½ cup serving!
While we’re big advocates of getting nutrients naturally, if you think your child is having trouble meeting their daily calcium needs, talk to your pediatrician for advice on supplements and other healthy eating strategies.