Mom always told you to drink your milk, but did you listen? Although it’s one of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of calcium, not everyone can stomach dairy. Still, we all need calcium for strong, healthy bones, teeth and muscles. If milk isn’t your child’s thing, but you don’t want them to come up short, consider these additional sources of calcium:
One 3-ounce can of pink, canned salmon solids with bone gives your child 181 mg of calcium. Sardines are another great source of calcium; one can delivers 351 mg. Try mixing them into a salad if your child is worried worried about the taste.
Consider calcium-fortified soy milk, almond milk, rice milk or orange or cranberry juice. Check for labels on canned frozen juices to ensure they’re “calcium-fortified.” Just 6 ounces of calcium-fortified orange juice provides 261 mg of calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health. One 8-ounce glass of fortified soy milk yields 299 mg of calcium. (Budget-conscious shoppers: Pass on the organic or freshly squeezed juices, which don’t always provide extra calcium.)
Black-eyed peas pack a particularly hefty dose of calcium; just 1 cup weighs in at 183 mg. Baked beans are also high in calcium. Soak beans in water for several hours and cook them in fresh water to reduce a naturally occurring substance known as phytate, which can interfere with the body’s absorption of calcium, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens and broccoli are all excellent sources of calcium. For example, a half cup of fresh, boiled turnip greens delivers 99 mg of calcium, and 1 cup of raw, chopped kale packs 100 mg.
Nuts and seeds
A single cup of plain almonds delivers 243 mg of calcium, 1 cup of walnuts provides 78 mg. Hazelnuts are even better, with 1 cup packing 154 mg of calcium. Brazil nuts, found in most grocery stores, provide 213 mg per cup. Add flaxseeds or sunflower seeds to a green leafy salad for even more calcium. If your child is a peanut butter person, consider alternatives such as almond butter, cashew butter or pumpkin seed butter for a boost in calcium with less sodium.
Oatmeal and cereal
Breakfast cereals and hot instant oatmeal offer an easy way to stuff calcium into your child’s diet. Just be sure to grab a low-sugar brand or the old-fashioned rolled oats, which typically have less sugar than some instant packets. One cup of ready-to-eat cereal, meanwhile, can provide anywhere from 100 to 1,000 mg of calcium depending on the brand.