Alternative sources of calcium for dairy-free children

Parents of children with a dairy intolerance naturally worry about their child’s calcium intake. Little wonder as a serious calcium deficiency can lead to rickets and poor dental health.

Daily guideline amounts for calcium intake for young children, according to the British Dietetic Association, are:

525mg for infants under 1
350mg for children aged 1-3
450mg for children aged 4-6
550mg for children aged 7-10

As the body cannot make its own calcium then we must get enough from the foods we eat. So if your child cannot tolerate milk and dairy produce then here’s a list of alternative sources of calcium rich foods you could try incorporating into their diet.

• Green leafy vegetables, particularly broccoli and spring greens. Not spinach though!
• Any dairy free food that is fortified with calcium, eg, bread, cereal
• Milk substitutes that are fortified with calcium, eg, almond, oat, soya, coconut. Rice drinks are best avoided for children aged under 4½
• Oily fish, eg, tinned sardines, pilchards and salmon (with bones)
• Soya beans
• Dairy-free yoghurt fortified with calcium
• Tofu

It’s also important that your little one gets a decent intake of Vitamin D as well because this helps the body absorb calcium. The best way to boost their Vitamin D is let them play in the fresh air so they get plenty of sunlight.

Fortunately the range of dairy free foods is on the rise, making meal planning a little easier. For those days when time is really tight, our gluten, wheat and dairy free Mini Cottage Pie & Mini Lasagne meals (ideal for 2 to 9 year olds) are designed to make meal times quicker and easier for busy mums and dads.