What about Calcium?

Calcium Them bones them bones need…. Calcium. Everyone knows this, right? But did you know what else the body needs calcium for? It is the most abundant mineral in the body. As well as being an essential for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth, it plays an important role in muscle contraction, transmission of messages through the nerves and the release of hormones. If the level of calcium in the blood is low, calcium can be taken from the bones to ensure normal cell function.

I don’t know about you but every so often I have this ‘Oh my God’ moment where I’m freaking over whether I’m feeding my kids well and if they are getting enough of everything.

Cow’s milk is one of the main sources of calcium for many people in Ireland.  It contains 120mg of calcium per 100ml.  Calcium is synonymous with milk products just because that’s what we’ve been used to. The easiest way to replace the calcium, and compare like with like is to find a fortified milk alternative that contains as much calcium as cow’s milk. However, there are many other foods that are naturally high in calcium.

How much calcium do we need anyway?

Calcium recommended daily amounts in Ireland*.

Category

Amount

Children 800mg
Teenagers 1200mg
Adults 800mg
Pregnancy 1200mg
Lactating 1200mg

*FSAI Recommended Dietary Allowances for Ireland 1999

 

Natural Sources of Calcium

I’ve learnt a lot myself while researching for this blogpost. Here are some of the natural non-dairy sources of calcium:

  • Sardines
  • Tinned Salmon
  • Kale
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Black-eyed beans (black eyed peas)
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Bok Choy
  • Baked Beans
  • Almonds
  • Oranges

Fortified Foods

  • Soy Milk – Many soy milks are fortified with calcium, check the packs to make sure. The one I buy regularly is Alpro Original, this contains 120mg per 100ml exactly the same as cow’s milk. Be wary that the Junior 1+ Milk contains less calcium at only 100mg per 100ml.
  • Rice Milk – Rice dream has 120mg calcium per 100ml the same as cow’s milk.
  • Almond milk – again these milks can be fortified with calcium – Alpro Almond and Almond Dream milk match the calcium level of cow’s milk, 120mg per 100ml.
  • Coconut milk – Kara Koko Dairy Free comes in a full fat and semi-skimmed version and both have 120mg calcium per 100ml.
  • Hazelnut milk – depends on producer. Alpro Hazelnut contains 120mg calcium per 100ml.
  • Cereals – Many cereals are fortified with minerals and vitamins, most are fortified with calcium. In my cereal cupboard Cheerios and Ready Brek*  are fortified with calcium.
  • Orange Juice – check the packs some of these are now fortified with vitamins and calcium.

*Please note Ready Brek not suitable for milk allergy sufferers due to potential cross contamination with milk products.

Supplements

If you are still worried that your child is not taking in enough calcium, there are vitamin supplements available in your local pharmacy. On the pharmacists advice, I have tried one or two of these with my older boy. Take care that you only give vitamins if your child is old enough. Usually over 3. Ask for pharmacists advice if you are unsure of anything.

  • Haliborange Vitamin D Calcium Softies
  • Lil Crickets Calcium Gummy Bears
  • Haliborange Multivitamins, Calcium & Iron 

 

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