Top 10 Calcium-loaded Foods for Kids Who Are Lactose Intolerant
Calcium is an essential nutrient that helps ensure healthy teeth and bones. Everyone should include foods with calcium in their diets, and this is even more important during your child’s development. Unfortunately, lactose intolerance can restrict your child’s access to dairy products, the most well-known sources of calcium.
However, there are still plenty of healthy and delicious foods that can provide your child with proper nutrition while taking into account their lactose intolerance.
Why Your Child Needs Calcium
Calcium is mostly associated with bones and teeth, but it’s also vital to proper heart, muscle, and nerve function. As your child grows, they need a steadily rising amount of calcium to meet their needs.
Infants require the equivalent calcium of about two-thirds of a cup of dairy milk. From age one to three, that increases to two cups, and reaches a bit over three cups for kids aged four to eight. From nine to 18, your child needs the calcium equivalent of four cups of dairy milk each day.
Keeping up with those calcium requirements to ensure strong teeth and bones can be a challenge if your child can’t consume dairy products, but, fortunately, there are many alternatives available. Try these 10 dairy-free alternatives.
1. Calcium-fortified Foods
Ensuring that kids get enough calcium has been an important focus for a long time, resulting in a range of calcium-fortified foods that are dairy-free. If you look closely at store shelves, you’ll notice many foods, including breakfast cereals and waffles, come in calcium-fortified varieties.
Just make sure to avoid sugar-coated cereals and stick with the whole-grain kind.
2. Lactose-free Dairy Products
While lactose-free dairy products might not have been widespread while you were growing up, your child can take advantage of the wide range of lactose-free natural dairy products available today. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other products are all available with the lactose removed but the calcium intact.
3. Soy Milk
Soy milk has long been a widespread dairy alternative. Soybeans are naturally very high in calcium, so the milk substitute made from them is rich in calcium as well. Soy milk also has plenty of vitamin D and other important nutrients also found in dairy milk.
If you’re looking for quick and easy healthy snacks that are full of calcium, then almonds are one of the best. They’re rich in calcium, and kids love them. You can also use almond butter as an alternative to peanut butter, or consider almond milk as a dairy substitute.
Broccoli might not sound like a go-to choice to excite kids at first, but it could be if you start early enough. Kids only dislike broccoli once they hear about its reputation, so starting your kids out with crunchy raw broccoli and dip as a calcium-rich snack can have them loving broccoli for life.
Tofu is another healthy, calcium-rich food derived from soybeans. It’s available in many different forms with a variety of flavorings, and can be a welcome addition to a healthy stir-fry dinner that brings plenty of calcium along for the ride.
Salmon and a variety of other fish have very high levels of calcium and can make for a healthy and delicious dinner. Your children will also get plenty of protein and omega-3 fatty acids that are good for their long-term health.
While not all that popular here in the US, dried figs are a healthy snack enjoyed around the world. They contain plenty of calcium, along with fiber and antioxidants. Many varieties are available, ranging in size, texture, and flavor, so you can find something just right for your child.
9. Leafy Greens
Leafy, dark-green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are rich in a wide range of essential nutrients, including calcium and iron. They can be a challenge to incorporate into meals in a way your children like, so try mixing them into a stir-fry or even trying fruit and kale non-dairy smoothies.
10. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are another easy snack that’s rich in calcium, along with plenty of magnesium as well. Try them out alone or in a healthy trail mix that can contain other calcium-rich snacks, like almonds and dried fruit. One thing to watch out for here is salt content, so consider unsalted or lightly salted varieties.
Concerned about your child’s development?
If your child is lactose intolerant or you have any other reason to be concerned about the healthy development of their teeth, visit your local kid’s dentist in Vancouver, WA. Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry can provide you with professional advice on how to take care of your child’s oral health and tooth and jaw development, along with the routine care and dental procedures they need. Reach out today to schedule your appointment with our compassionate and experienced team.