Is your dairy-free child getting enough calcium?
Calcium is one of the top nutrients for growing bubs and toddlers and important in order to build healthy bones, teeth but also to regulate hormones and supporting muscle contraction.
A dairy-free diet has become more common in children due to lactose intolerance and cow’s milk allergy. The recommendation is usually to eliminate or limit foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream, butter etc. from the diet.
Due to the increase of this diet I often get asked about dairy-free calcium sources as many parents seem to struggle to find a good replacement that their child will eat and that will meet their daily calcium requirements.
Here are my favourite NON-DAIRY sources of calcium:
- Sardines + salmon with bones
- Sesame seeds / tahini
Children under age 3 needs about 700 mg calcium a day which is about 1,5 serve.
If your child is a fussy eater and refuses these dairy-free courses then I suggest trying the following:
- Add kale to green smoothies. A good mix is mango/banana, avocado, kale, almond milk. Add some raw honey if its too bitter.
- Bake with almond meal. There are plenty yummy and kids- friendly recipes with almond flour. Check out my recipe page for some inspiration!
- Broccoli can be added to delicious frittatas with delicious vegetables like pumpkin and sweet potato.
- Salmon can be made into small fish fingers or burgers that most kids will be open to try.
- Tahini (made from sesame seeds) are also great to put in smoothies, spreads, dips or baking.
Remember that the body also need sufficient vitamin D to absorb calcium so serve foods like fatty fish, cod liver oil and egg yolk that are high in vitamin-D.
Serving cows milk to your kids? Avoid dairy products that has:
- Added hormones
- Sweeteners and added sugars
Make sure that your child is not consuming too much dairy. This can inhibit iron absorption in the body and lead to iron deficiency which may do harm to your child’s health.
If you are giving your child milk I recommend organic full-fat milk which is usually higher in Omega-3 and free from antibiotics, pesticides and hormones.