Ensuring Dairy-Free Kids Get Enough Calcium

Lauren Sharifi, LD RDN

Q: My young son has a milk allergy. How can I make sure he's getting enough calcium?

A: If your son or daughter has a milk or dairy allergy, there are plenty of non-dairy foods that can provide your child with the calcium they need to build healthy, strong bones.

Non-dairy foods fortified with calcium:

Fortified unsweetened soy, rice or almond milk

Fortified orange juice

Tofu made with calcium sulfate

Ready-to-eat fortified cereal

Fortification means that calcium has been added to the food product. To be sure a product is fortified with calcium look on the nutrition fact label for ingredients like calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxylate, or calcium sulfate as well check that the food products contains a percent daily value (%DV) of calcium. This percentage may change from product to product and depending on the serving size.

Non-dairy foods with naturally occurring calcium:

Sardines, canned in oil, with bones

Pink salmon, canned, with bones


Collard greens

Bok choy, cooked


White beans (navy beans), cooked

Almonds/ almond butter

Foods naturally containing calcium often contain a lower percent daily value of calcium but are still a great way to incorporate calcium into your child’s diet. To help meet your child’s calcium needs I recommend serving at least 2-3 servings of calcium fortified foods along with 2-3 servings of plant-based foods into your child’s meals and snacks. If there is any concern that your child may not be getting in enough of these calcium containing foods, consider adding in a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement.

Lauren Sharifi is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and food blogger at biteofhealthnutrition.com. Lauren works in private practice in Brighton at ASF-Peak Health (asfpeakhealth.com) and is passionate about helping individuals and families become competent eaters that find joy out of eating. Have a question for Lauren? Email BSPeditor@gatehousemedia.com.