Calcium-fortified juice: A good source of calcium for kids?

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Calcium-fortified juice: A good source of calcium for kids?

Question

My kids don't like milk. Is it OK for them to drink calcium-fortified juices instead?

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Answer

Yes, calcium-fortified juices provide a readily absorbable source of calcium for people who don't or can't drink milk. But keep in mind that juices can vary considerably in the amount of calcium they provide per serving. For example, 1 cup of calcium-fortified orange juice may contain 30 percent of the Daily Value of calcium, while 1 cup of apple juice may provide only 10 percent. So check the label.

The Daily Value is based on the target of 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. So every 10 percent DV equals 100 milligrams of calcium. A juice that provides 35 percent DV per 8 ounces supplies 350 milligrams of calcium — about the same amount of calcium as in 8 ounces of milk.

Calcium is important for building strong bones and teeth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children older than 8 years in the United States don't get enough calcium in their diet. Maintaining adequate calcium intake in childhood and adolescence is necessary to attain peak bone mass, which may be important in reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis later in life.

If your kids don't like the taste of plain milk, try these other "kid-friendly" sources of calcium:

  • Fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt
  • Reduced-fat string cheese or American cheese slices
  • Cocoa made with fat-free milk
  • Chocolate milk made with low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Calcium-fortified soy milk
  • Calcium-fortified breads, such as IronKids Bread
  • Pudding made with fat-free milk
  • Calcium-fortified orange or tangerine juice
Calcium: How much do kids need?
Age Recommended daily intake
1-3 years 500 milligrams (mg)
4-8 years 800 mg
9-18 years 1,300 mg

Source: Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, National Academy of Sciences, 1997

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