Monday, 5 September 2011

Dairy Free Diets provide Necessary Calcium

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
As a health provider I work with many parents who are advised to cease their child's dairy intake for health reasons.  Naturally, a lot of parents are concerned that their child may be missing out on calcium and ultimately adversely affecting their health. 
To help put minds at ease I thought parents may find it useful to learn that “dairy free” does not necessarily mean calcium deficient.   I have added a list below outlining recommended daily intake (RDI) for age groups as well as non-dairy food options.  The news is great and should help parents feel more comfortable that removing dairy from the diet will not lead to adverse health outcomes.  

Age related Recommend Daily Intakes 
Non-Dairy Calcium Sources
0–6 months*200 mg
Soy Milk 1 cup - 400mg
7–12 months*260 mg

85gm Canned Salmon - 181mg
1–3 years 700 mg

Spinach 1/2 cup - 120mg
4–8 years 1,000 mg

Tofu 1/2 cup - 200mg
9–13 year 1,300 mg

85g Sardines - 325mg
14–18 years 1,300 mg

1 cup Cereal 100 - 1000mg

 Other calcium sources include Almonds, Figs, Eggs, Molasses and Green Leafy vegetables.  What’s great about the above list is that it shows how easy it is to attain the RDI quite easily.  By the time three well rounded meals have been served one can see how an age related RDI is easily met.
For all those parents out there who have children requiring dairy free diets this is great news.  It hopefully assures you that your children will get enough calcium from many other food sources and will in no way become deficient in this wonderful.  Perhaps it may be an opportunity to delve into the world of nutrition and understand that natural food sources provide a rich and bio-available source of essential nutrients. By the way, I haven't had a glass of cow milk for 37 years and I have no issues with the integrity and strength of my bones.