Any dietary source of calcium will count toward the child’s daily intake, but low-fat milk is clearly the most efficient and readily available. Lactose-free milk, soy and rice drinks have recently become more easily obtainable and less expensive.
In addition to milk, there are a variety of foods that contain calcium and can help children get sufficient levels of calcium in their daily diet. Some examples include:
|Dairy foods||Milk, yogurt, cheese|
|Leafy green vegetables||Broccoli, kale, spinach|
|Beans and peas||Tofu, peanuts, peas, black beans, baked beans|
|Miscellaneous||Sesame seeds, blackstrap molasses, corn tortillas, almonds, brown sugar|
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Vitamin D is also necessary to allow the body to absorb the calcium. In the US, milk is fortified with Vitamin D, and a few other foods are sometimes also vitamin D-fortified (such as some types of cereal and bread). This vitamin occurs naturally in only a few foods, such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines) and egg yolks. In addition to dietary sources, sunlight can provide the body with Vitamin D as it is synthesized through the skin.
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Importantly, recent research has pointed to phosphorus and carbonated beverages (which contain phosphoric acid) as having a negative impact on bone density. Theoretically, the equilibrium between phosphorus and calcium causes the latter to be replaced in bone by the former. While this has yet to be proven as a significant cause of calcium loss, milk is still considered the preferred drink when compared with carbonated drinks of any sort.