With the rising cost of milk, (more than a gallon of gasoline!) I have begun cutting back on our milk consumption. I have 2 boys, 9 and 13. How much daily calcium do they need and how can substitute with other foods to make up for the loss in calcium through not drinking milk?

It is good that you are concerned about your boys’ diet. Calcium is an important part of a healthy meal plan. It has numerous functions such as building and maintaining bone and teeth health, aids in nerve transmission, and helps to regulate the heart’s rhythm. Your children will need around 1,300 mg of calcium per day (ages 9-18). Dietary calcium can be found in a variety of places so no need to solely focus on milk. For example, you can get approximately 415 mg of calcium in yogurt and ~380 mg in fortified orange juice. Various fortified cereals are also a good source of calcium along with cheddar cheese (305 mg), tofu (253 mg), and cottage cheese (138 mg). Your kids will likely not be excited about sardines, but they too are a good source of calcium (324 mg). Other sources that have calcium are salmon, instant breakfast drinks, pudding, kale, and turnip greens. I would encourage that you try to include a high calcium food at each meal. Start out their day with a fortified cereal or a fruit/yogurt smoothie. Place cheddar cheese on a turkey sandwich or pack a pudding snack pack in their lunch. Include a sautéed kale with dinner and maybe make their evening snack an instant “breakfast” drink.

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