Lately, calcium rich foods have been called into question for kids. Namely, milk has been questioned as a necessary component to a child’s diet.
There have been grumbles about whether calcium actually keeps the bones strong, suggestions that enough vitamin D can be found in non-dairy foods and from the sunlight, and reminders that milk may contribute to childhood obesity.
Let me say this loud and clear: calcium rich foods are required in a child’s diet.
Why Calcium Rich Foods Matter
Where you get calcium —which calcium rich foods are eaten and their quantities—is a matter of personal preference.
For example, a vegetarian may get all of his calcium from non-animal sources; a child with a milk allergy may get calcium from calcium-fortified non-dairy foods. And still other families may just prefer not to consume milk, for whatever reason, and get their calcium from a variety of different foods.
The question of whether kids really need calcium rich foods like milk gets answered with “it depends.” Look at your child’s medical circumstances, your family food practices, your child’s eating habits and food preferences (read: what he or she will eat), and the other realities of making nutrition happen in your home.
They all weigh differently for each family.
While I have always been a supporter of milk as part of a healthy diet, I understand that milk isn’t for everyone.
However, calcium is for every growing child. And that means calcium rich foods.
Calcium Rich Foods
Milk is simply one food that helps kids meet their calcium requirement. And surveys and studies show, it’s an easy way for kids to meet it, plus get a whole host of other important bone nutrients, such as protein and potassium.
But milk isn’t the only way to meet your child’s calcium needs.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) for calcium for children aged 4-8 is 1,000 mg, while the requirement for kids and teens aged 9-18 is 1,300 milligrams per day.
Here are some calcium rich foods to help your child or teen meet his daily needs. The foods you choose to offer, and how you combine them to match the total daily requirement is your choice.
Calcium Content of Foods
|Food||Serving Size||Calcium Content|
|1% Milk||1 cup||314 mg|
|2% milk||1 cup||314 mg|
|Whole milk (3.25%)||1 cup||276 mg|
|Soymilk, all flavors, unsweetened||1 cup||301 mg|
|Chocolate soymilk||1 cup||306 mg|
|Almond milk, vanilla||1 cup||451 mg|
|Rice drink, fortified w/ calcium||1 cup||283 mg|
|Yogurt, plain, low fat||1 cup||311 mg|
|Mozzarella cheese, shredded||½ cup1 ounce||306 mg163 mg|
|Cheddar cheese, low fat, diced||½ cup||225 mg|
|American cheese, processed||1 slice||314 mg|
|Cottage cheese (2%)||½ cup||125 mg|
|Tofu (prepared with calcium sulfate)||½ cup||861 mg|
|Sardines, canned in oil||½ cup||285 mg|
|Soybeans||1 cup||515 mg|
|Almonds, roasted||¼ cup||115 mg|
|Sesame seeds||1 ounce||280 mg|
|Collard greens, cooked||1 cup||357 mg|
|Eggnog||1 cup||350 mg|
|Amaranth (grain), uncooked||1 cup||307 mg|
|Cream of Wheat, cooked||1 cup||306 mg|
|V8 juice, calcium enriched||1 cup||299 mg|
|Mung beans, raw||1 cup||273 mg|
|Spinach, canned||1 cup||272 mg|
|Ricotta, whole milk||½ cup||257 mg|
|Turnip greens, cooked||1 cup||249 mg|
|Spinach, cooked||1 cup||245 mg|
|Figs, dried||1 cup||241 mg|
|Bagel, enriched w/ calcium (plain, poppy seed, onion, sesame)||1 bagel||217 mg|
|Brazil nuts||1 cup||213 mg|
|Bread, white wheat||1 slice||192 mg|
|Tempeh||1 cup||184 mg|
|Chia seeds, dry||1 ounce||179 mg|
|Mustard greens, cooked||1 cup||165 mg|
|Beet greens, cooked||1 cup||164 mg|
|Kale, raw||1 cup||137 mg|
**Values obtained from the USDA Nutrient Database
Which of these foods do you use to meet your child’s calcium requirements?
I’ve written a book that digs into your child’s calcium requirements even further, and provides ways to help you make sure your child is growing healthy, strong bones.
Click on the photo below to learn more:
Or click here to purchase a copy.
Also, for an expert interview with Dr. Taylor Wallace on bone growth in children, tune in to The Nourished Child.