Drink Your Milk: Kids Need Calcium

Dairy products like milk are rich in calcium, which builds strong bones and teeth. Is your child getting enough of this vital nutrient?

Do you remember your mother always telling you to drink your milk? It's true that milk is a rich source of calcium and protein. And many growing children don't get enough calcium each day.

Calcium is vital for healthy bones and strong teeth. The daily amount of calcium experts recommend for healthy children is:

  • 700 mg for ages 1 to 3
  • 1,000 mg for ages 4 to 8
  • 1,300 mg for ages 9 to 18

A child could get 1,300 mg by drinking about 4 cups of milk a day. But some parents find it's hard to get their kids to even touch a glass of milk. If your child won't drink milk, it may help to find out why he or she resists it. Does your child not like the taste? Does it cause stomach upset? Or is your child filling up on juices, sports drinks, or soda?

Too much soda is bad news for bones
Childhood and the teen years are when kids are building the bone strength they need for lifelong health. Drinking too much soda can lower the level of calcium in the body and may lead to weak bones. Experts aren't sure why this happens. It may be because healthy calcium-rich drinks are being replaced with less healthy ones.

Also, kids who drink a lot of soda tend to weigh more than kids who drink more milk. And in the long run, drinking high-sugar soft drinks may increase the risk of diabetes.

If your children are guzzling sodas, juices, and sports drinks instead of milk, then you need to draw the line. Limit those drinks. Instead stock the refrigerator with milk, water, and calcium-fortified juices.

Milk isn't the only choice
There are plenty of calcium-rich dairy products besides milk. Some ideas are low-fat yogurt, natural cheeses, or milkshakes made with nonfat frozen yogurt or nonfat ice cream. Flavored milk is another alternative.

Some non-dairy foods contain calcium, too, such as broccoli, kale, spinach, tofu, and canned salmon. You can also serve calcium-fortified fruit juices. But juices have a lot of sugar, so limit servings.

Avoid high-fat dairy
The American Heart Association suggests that all children age 2 and older should switch to low-fat or nonfat dairy products. This is important for maintaining a healthy weight as well as a healthy heart.

Could it be lactose intolerance?
Does your child dislike milk because it upsets his or her stomach? Find out by keeping a food diary. Write down when your child has dairy products like filitra professional and then how he or she feels for a few hours afterward. If your child feels discomfort after drinking or eating anything dairy, talk to your pediatrician. There's a chance your child is lactose intolerant. If so, switching to lactose-free milk may help relieve those unpleasant symptoms.