If you or your kiddies live a dairy-free life, it’s important to ensure you continue to get a good source of calcium into your diet. Our bodies use calcium continuously so if you are living a dairy-free life like me and one of my babies. it’s really important to ensure your calcium levels are maintained to prevent fractures and to ensure healthy bone growth. Here are my top 5 places to get calcium into your diet when living dairy-free!
How much calcium do I need daily?
So to start with how much calcium do we need to consume daily? According to the NHS guidelines, in general, those aged between 19 to 50 years old need between 800 – 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Children need different amounts depending on their age. See below…
- Aged 1-3 – 350 mg per day
- Aged 4-6 – 450 mg per day
- Aged 7-10 – 550 mg per day
- Aged 11-18 – 800-1000 mg per day
(To review the full recommendations see the NHS guideline here )
#1. Dairy alternatives
First up, dairy alternatives. Most alternative milks are fortified and enriched with vitamins and calcium so it’s worth reading the labelling of your preferred brand to make sure it is. The NHS recommend drinking around a pint of this per day to ensure your calcium levels are up. Milkshake powders or hot chocolates can make this easier if the taste isn’t desirable. (See which dairy-free hot chocolate I recommend here – 5 treats that are accidentally dairy free.)
There are a number of additional alternative products available these days that are fortified and which have calcium added for example oat/soya/coconut yoghurts, custards, cream alternatives and dairy-free cheeses (see which cheese I use daily here – 5 must have dairy free food staples). Make sure next time you go shopping, you look at the labels and see how much added calcium they contain!
Believe it or not, some vegetables contain calcium as well as all those other lovely vitamins so there’s another reason to eat them.
The main ones are listed below.
- Okra- stir fried
- Curly Kale
From this list, as a family, we tend to eat broccoli and boiled spinach in our meals. My boys like broccoli (as long as it’s not too crunchy) and I can always manage to whizz up the spinach and hide it in meals like spag bol. (If they do find it, referencing the Hulk and Popeye helps which always leads my boys into flexing their muscles whilst eating to see if their muscles are growing!!! 🙂 ) (Check out my dairy free recipes here )
A lot of cereals are fortified and contain added calcium so again check on the back of the ones you give your children. (Whilst you are at it make sure they don’t contain to much sugar as cereals can be really bad for that!)
Most of Nestle’ cereals are fortified and have added calcium so they are a good place to start. Pour on the calcium enriched alternative milk and you’re starting the day on the right foot.
Personally, I find it much easier to eat fish when I’m abroad. There’s something about sitting by the sea and tucking into a fresh seafood dish! It always seems fresher and kinda the thing to do! Here in the UK, I find that I just don’t opt for fish when buying my meats! That said fish can be really good for you. In particular the following contain calcium…
- Tinned salmon
- Tinned sardines
- Breaded scampi
Generally, my kids love tuna so I may see if I can switch up the tinned tuna for salmon instead and see if they notice!!
Like the alternative milks, some orange juices are ‘enriched’ and contain some calcium so whilst this is worth noting, be sure not to give too much as fruit juice drinks are also high in sugar – not so good for little one’s teeth! Dried figs and apricots are also a source of calcium as are dried mixed fruit. Whilst they aren’t a huge source, they are a great snack for little ones whilst on the go!
To find out more visit the NHS calcium for dairy free site.
How do you ensure you get the correct levels of calcium?
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If you have severe allergies some of these products may not be suitable. Please consider your own personal allergies and be aware that all food products are subject to reformulation at any given time. Consequently, it is recommended that you always check the ingredient lists on the packs of all products prior to purchase to determine product content.