Children are at risk for not getting enough calcium. Today, surveys show that children and teens are only getting a portion of the calcium they need. Calcium is important for building strong bones and teeth.
Children 4 to 8 need 800 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. Teens and preteens 9 to 18 need 1300 mg each day. The table below shows good sources of calcium, both dairy and nondairy, that you can offer to your kids every day.
Plain yogurt, low fat/fat free 1 cup 415 to 450 mg Fruit yogurt, low fat/fat free 1 cup 345 mg Milk (fat-free, low-fat, whole) 1 cup 275 to 300 mg Frozen yogurt (fat-free, low-fat, whole) 1 cup 210 mg Reduced-fat cheddar cheese 1 oz. 120 mg American cheese 2 oz. 323 mg Swiss cheese 1.5 oz. 336 mg Cheddar cheese 1.5 oz. 307 mg Mozzarella, part-skim 1.5 oz. 311 mg Ricotta Cheese, part skim 1/2 cup 337 mg Cottage cheese reduced fat 1/2 cup 75 mg Calcium-fortified cottage cheese 1/2 cup 300 mg Cheese Pizza 1 slice 220 mg
Calcium-fortified orange juice 1 cup 500 mg Corn Tortillas 3 63 mg Waffle 7 inch round 1 190 mg Pancakes 4 inch round 2 100 mg Beans dried (cooked) 1 cup 80 to 130 mg Soybeans (cooked) 1/2 cup 90 mg Tofu (processed with calcium sulfate) 1/2 cup 253 to 453 mg Rice milk (calcium fortified) 1 cup 283 mg Soy milk (calcium-fortified) 1 cup 300 mg Salmon with small bones 3 oz. 180 mg Broccoli (raw) 1 cup 90 mg Almonds 1 oz. 75 mg Calcium-fortified cereal 1 cup 250 to 1000 mg Chinese cabbage, raw 1 cup 74 mg Turnip greens boiled 1/2 cup 99 mg Kale, cooked 1 cup 94 mg Spinach, cooked 1 cup 245 mg Spinach, raw 1 cup 30 mg
*Calcium content of foods listed in the above table will vary depending on fat content, processing and brand. The values shown here are estimates.
The calcium from some nondairy choices, such as vegetables, beans, and soy, is not absorbed as well as that from dairy products. Although these foods make it easier to meet daily calcium needs, it still can be hard to get enough without dairy products. It is best to get calcium from a variety of sources. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian if your child should take a calcium supplement.
While many fortified products are good supplements, foods such as candy, flavored waters, and soda pop often have little or no nutritional value, other than the calcium. They are snack foods and should be eaten in limited amounts. Choose fortified foods that are already nutritious, such as whole grain cereals, breads, 100% fruit juices, or soy products.
Read labels. More does not always mean better. Calcium is best absorbed in amounts of 500 mg or less per serving. Keep your child's calcium needs in mind when you choose fortified products. Although rare, it is possible to get too much calcium through fortified foods.
The calcium in fortified fruit juices is well absorbed. Three 8 oz cups of fruit juice is about the same as three 8 oz cups of low fat milk in calcium and calories.