You’ve probably heard from your pediatric dentist that calcium is very important for the health of your child’s teeth. Calcium promotes strong, healthy bone growth (including teeth!). Most popular sources of calcium for kids are dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, if your child is lactose intolerant or isn’t a huge fan of dairy, there are still plenty of ways for them to get enough calcium in their diets! Read on to learn more about some kid-friendly sources of calcium.
First of all, we should note that if you or your child depend on non-dairy sources for calcium, be sure to pair the calcium-rich foods with vitamin D, which helps the body fully absorb non-dairy calcium. Some foods (like sardines!) contain both calcium and vitamin D, but this is not always the case so you may need to do a little extra meal planning.
A lot of greens like spinach, kale, collards, and bok choy contain calcium. Of course, it can be difficult to get little ones to eat their greens, so try hiding them in a yummy fruit smoothie or finely chopping them in their favorite pasta dish!
It might be a little bit easier to convince your child to eat fruits. Oranges are a great source of calcium as well as vitamin C, and they make a great easy snack. Dried figs are also high in calcium and are even sweeter and don’t require any peeling.
Some beans, like white beans and soybeans, also contain calcium. Try making a delicious chilli with white beans! Soy sources are even easier to find. If your child is lactose intolerant, use soy products for some of their substitutions, like soy milk!
Nuts and Seeds
One of the easiest ways to get a little extra boost of calcium is actually sesame seeds! On hamburger nights, opt for buns that have sesame seeds on them. You can’t really taste them, so you’re child won’t even know they’re supporting their bone and tooth growth! Chia seeds and poppy seeds are also sources of calcium, and can easily be used in baked goods (lemon poppyseed muffins, anyone?) and salads. Another calcium-rich option is almonds. They make a great snack, but you can also try almond butter and almond milk!
Fish may be a little bit tougher to sell, but the health benefits are worth the try! Canned salmon is a little less expensive than fresh salmon, and the canning process softens the fish bones enough to make them edible (we know, gross! But we promise you won’t be able to tell). If the sight bothers your child, just crush the bones into the meat with a fork. Salmon bones are safe to eat and actually very good for you!
Another alternative is canned sardines. Sardines are even better because they contain vitamin D, which will help your body properly absorb the calcium they contain. It can be difficult to get kids to eat sardines, but here are 51 sardine recipe ideas to try!
In a pinch, you can always opt for foods that have been specifically fortified with calcium. They’ll be a little more processed than some of the other options, but can really help out parents with picky eaters! Some orange juices are calcium fortified, containing an additional boost to the calcium that already exists in oranges. Some instant oatmeals and breakfast cereals (like Cheerios!) also offer in calcium fortified options.
Here at Kids’ Healthy Teeth, we care about your child’s teeth as well as their overall health. If you have any questions about how your child’s diet can affect their teeth, schedule a consultation with us today!