76 Answers

“I’m worried about my child getting enough calcium – he is lactose intolerant so can’t have all the usual milk and cheese. How can I make sure he still gets enough for strong bones and teeth?” How do you make sure your child is getting enough calcium?

Posted by anon, 24/04/13

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  • There are a few veggies and even nuts that are high in calcium. If you’re really struggling, I would suggest a supplement from the chemist

  • There are lots of veggies that are quite high in calcium (I would have to Google to find them though)..

  • as long as they are eating milk cheese and yoghurt I wouldn’t be too concerned

  • lots of green smoothie! spinach with banana! so yummy!

  • What can you eat if you’re lactose intolerant?

    Yogurt. Most people with lactose intolerance can eat yogurt. The good bacteria (live, active cultures) found in yogurt will help digest the lactose for you. Choose a high quality yogurt (here’s a guide to help) with very few ingredients or Greek yogurt, which has very little lactose.
    Kefir. If you haven’t had kefir before, it’s kind of like drinkable yogurt, but with even more probiotics for even better digestion.
    Aged cheeses. The harder a cheese, the less lactose it has. Lactose is found in the watery part of milk, and since harder cheeses have less liquid, that means they contain less lactose. Extra sharp cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, aged gouda and other very hard cheeses have essentially no lactose.
    Lactase-fortified dairy products. Lactaid is the most well-known example in this category, but there now quite a few other cheeses, yogurts, and ice creams that are fortified with the lactase enzyme, so people with lactose intolerance can digest them.
    Low-fat dairy products in small amounts. Low-fat dairy like low-fat milk and cheese tend to be easier on the system when eaten in small amounts and/or combined with other foods at a meal. (These foods are also higher in protein and calcium than their high-fat counterparts). Finding the foods that work for you may just be a matter of trial and error, so start slow.
    Dairy products eaten with a lactase pill. Some people find lactase enzyme pills more effective than others, but they’re worth a try. Pop a lactase pill 30-60 minutes before consuming dairy to see if this method works for you. (Note: it probably won’t work if you take lactase and then down a huge banana split, but it may be effective for eating a small serving of milk with your cereal).


  • Can’t they get lactose from yoghurt

  • There is a lactose milk called zymil. We use that. As my daughter is lactose intolerant

  • we’re in a similar position, but can’t have dairy, so kinda worse.

  • What else can I do?

    Get enough vitamin D every day. Vitamin D helps your body use and absorb calcium. Aim to get at least 200 IU of vitamin D every day by drinking two cups of fortified soy beverage. Fish, milk and egg yolks are the best food sources of vitamin D. If you are over the age of 50, Health Canada recommends taking an additional 400 IU vitamin D supplement every day.

    Drink coffee in moderation. Aim for a maximum of 400 milligrams, which is about the amount in four regular-sized (8oz) cups (not mugs) of coffee. Any more caffeine can decrease the amount of calcium that your body retains. Remember that colas and energy drinks also contain caffeine. Regular tea contains much less caffeine than coffee. Check out how much caffeine you’re getting at Caffeine Content of Selected Drugs, Beverages and Cocoa Products.

    Try these tips for sneaking in calcium without the lactose:
    •Add fortified soy beverage or lactose free milk to your whole grain cereal for breakfast.
    •Make a salmon salad sandwich on whole grain bread (crush the bones and mix them into the salmon).
    •Have a bowl of baked beans with a glass of orange juice as part of your supper.
    •Add bok choy to your favourite stir-fry recipe.
    •Order a side dish of edamame beans (green soybeans) at a Japanese restaurant. You can even find edamame in the freezer section of the grocery store.
    •Sprinkle sesame seeds in a salad or over steamed veggies.
    •Snack on a handful of almonds or soy nuts.
    •Marinade and then grill a piece of firm tofu (made with calcium sulphate).

  • You may need to take a calcium supplement if you are not getting enough calcium from food. The two main types of calcium supplements are calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate supplements can be taken any time. Calcium carbonate supplements are better absorbed when taken with meals. Don’t take more than 500-600 mg of calcium at a time from supplements because this is the most your body can absorb at once.

  • What is lactose intolerance?

    Lactose intolerance describes your body’s reaction to the natural sugar (called lactose) found in milk. It is not the same thing as a milk allergy.

    If you are lactose intolerant, your body doesn’t have enough lactase, which is an enzyme needed to help break down lactose. Some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance are diarrhea, gas (flatulence), stomach cramps, bloating and vomiting.

    On the other hand, a milk allergy occurs when your body’s immune system reacts to the proteins found in milk. While some of the symptoms of a milk allergy are similar to lactose intolerance, a milk allergy can also cause a rash, hives, swelling, coughing, trouble breathing and could result in death.

    Your family doctor can help determine whether you have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance.

    Why is calcium so important and how much do I need?

    Calcium is a mineral that helps to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. Getting enough calcium at all ages can help prevent osteoporosis later in life. Your muscles and heart also need calcium to work properly.

    Milk and milk products are some of the best sources of calcium. But if you have lactose intolerance, you may need to avoid or eat smaller amounts of these foods. To make sure that you get enough calcium every day, choose foods wisely.

    The amount of calcium you need every day depends on your age.


    Daily calcium needs


    1-3 years


    4-8 years


    9-18 years


    19-50 years


    51+ years


    *Note that if you are at risk for osteoporosis , aim to get 1500 mg of calcium every day.

    What should I eat to get enough calcium?

    Keep in mind that even if you have lactose intolerance, you may still be able to eat some foods with lactose. Many people with lactose intolerance are able to handle small amounts (one to two cups) of milk throughout the day. Start with ½ cup of milk (125 mL) with a meal and see how it goes.

    Enjoy these calcium-rich foods, which contain small amounts of lactose:
    •Hard cheese (e.g. Cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, mozzarella cheese)

    Enjoy these calcium-rich foods, which contain no lactose:
    •Lactose-free milk
    •Fortified soy beverages*
    •Calcium-fortified orange juice
    •Vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli and kale)
    •Canned fish with bones (e.g. canned salmon and canned sardines)
    •Firm tofu (check the ingredients list for “calcium sulphate” which is used to set the tofu)
    •Beans (e.g. baked beans, chickpeas and kidney beans)
    •Nuts and seeds (e.g. almonds, soy nuts, sesame seeds)
    •Blackstrap molasses

    *Tip: For fortified soy beverages, shake the carton well before pouring to improve the amount of calcium that you get in each glass.

    You may also try using lactase enzyme pills or drops. Read the package and take the recommended number of pills just before eating a meal or food that contains lactose. Lactase enzyme drops can be added to milk to lower the lactose content making it less likely to bother you

  • If his lactose intolerant give him rice milk or almond milk it will give him calcium ;-)

  • Definitely a visit to the GP is a great idea, also perhaps a nutritionist if you’re quite concerned. There are certain foods that contain calcium but is he a good eater? Children’s calcium tablets won’t do any harm so I’d start introducing these if you haven’t already done so & it’s important for your young one to get natural sunlight, good luck :)

  • Maybe a kiddies mulit vitamin. They have chewable ones now.. might help.

  • i would go to the chemist and ask their advice about a supplement

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