Depending on their age, children between 1 and 18 need anywhere from 700 to 1300 mg of calcium per day. But studies show the majority of kids don’t get enough calcium on a daily basis, and it’s even worse for those with lactose intolerance, as dairy is not an option for them. If you’re struggling to get your lactose intolerant kids enough calcium, you’re not alone! Fortunately, there are tons of other foods to choose from. Here are the top ten dairy-free, calcium-rich foods your kids might actually eat.
Get even more ideas on this by reading: Dairy-Free Ways Moms Can Get Kids the Calcium They Need
Certain fruits are high in calcium, and oranges are among them. A single orange has about 71 mg of calcium, so encourage your kids to eat one for a snack. If you don’t see this happening, at least offer orange juice, but be aware it has added sugar! Oranges are easy to toss into lunches and great to grab and go, which is why they’re at the top of our list of dairy-free, calcium-rich foods.
Another fruit that’s packed with calcium is the fig. Just 1 cup of dried figs has about 241 mg of calcium, or 13 mg per fig. Your kids can eat them as a snack or you can use them in recipes, such as figs wrapped in bacon or homemade fig cookies.
Get some ideas on what to do with figs here: 15 Deliciously Quick Fig Recipes
If you’re going to make a vegetable side for lunch or dinner, make sure it’s broccoli. You can get 300 mg of calcium from 1 cup of steamed broccoli! So bribing your kids to eat it if they want dessert is definitely worth it.
If you’re looking for dairy-free, calcium-rich foods for breakfast, you can’t go wrong with oatmeal. Just one of the many vitamins and minerals in oatmeal is calcium, as one packet of instant oatmeal has about 105 mg. If you add fruits—such as figs!—your kid will get even more calcium at the beginning of their day.
Other dairy-free, calcium-rich foods include breakfast cereal. Sure, it doesn’t naturally come packed with calcium, but since the companies that make it know how important this nutrient is, they add it to most varieties. Some of the cereals with the most calcium include Total, Fiber One, and Cheerios.
You can find out more about the best cereals to try when you read: Cereals High in Calcium
Swap out your white potatoes for sweet potatoes when you want to make sure your kids get enough calcium. One sweet potato has about 68 mg of calcium. Compare this to the 26 mg of calcium you get from a regular baked potato, and you can see why this is one of the best dairy-free, calcium-rich foods for kids. You can serve baked sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries with dinner or as a snack, or even sprinkle cinnamon on them for dessert.
Just 2 tablespoons of almond butter can provide 100 mg of calcium… and it happens to be a tasty treat that pairs well with apple slices, celery, and toast! That means you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your kids to try it as a topping or dip with their favorite foods. Considering peanut butter only has about 14 mg of calcium in a 2-tablespoon serving, it makes sense to start using almond butter instead.
Since almond butter is packed with calcium, obviously a handful of almonds is, too. Just 1 ounce has 80 mg of calcium, making almonds the perfect snack or salad topping for kids who need more calcium.
If you’re looking for a calcium-rich crunchy snack for your kids, check out sunflower seeds. About 1 cup has 89 mg of calcium, so offer these as a snack or sprinkle them on any salads you serve your children.
If your kids are into seafood at all, go for canned sardines and canned salmon. Just 3 oz of sardines with the bones included can offer 300 mg of calcium, while canned salmon with bones can give your kids 180 mg of calcium. You can bake canned fish into most dinner recipes, or add it to the top of pasta or salad, depending on what would appeal to your kids.
Clearly, dairy-free, calcium-rich foods don’t have to be difficult or boring! There are plenty of options for lactose intolerant kids. But if you’re still struggling to get your children enough calcium, you can try a powdered supplement like FitFormula. Since it’s flavorless, you can easily sneak this calcium supplement into any food or drink to ensure your kids get just the right amount of calcium.
And then check out 10 Amazing Dairy-Free Recipes for the Lactose-Intolerant or Dairy-Free Eater
More sources on dairy-free, calcium-rich foods for the lactose intolerant:
Want To Go Dairy Free? Read This First
Non-Dairy Smoothie Recipes Can Deliver Big on Daily Dose of Calcium
Surprisingly Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren’t Milk