The question I heard most often from doctors after we stopped drinking cow’s milk due to a food allergy was, “Are you getting enough calcium and vitamin D?”
The US recommended daily intake of calcium is 1000 mg. Most of us meet those needs with dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese; one eight-ounce serving of milk meets 30% of the requirement. But those foods are off limits to those with a milk allergy. There are other foods that contain calcium, but let’s face it – eating 25 cups of broccoli every day just isn’t feasible.
Fortified milk is also a large source of vitamin D for most of us. One glass of milk contains 25% of our daily need.
As a food-allergy mom, it’s my job to eliminate the foods that my son is allergic to, but I also worry about whether he getting all the nutrients he needs. We all know that calcium is necessary for healthy bones, and in recent years we’ve learned that insufficient vitamin D can contribute to many diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. So what’s a food-allergy Mom to do? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Dish up more fish – Fish, especially fatty fishes like salmon and tuna, are one of the best food sources of vitamin D.
2. Buy orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D – One glass of fortified orange juice provides 35% of the calcium and 25% of the vitamin D you need each day.
3. Serve hemp milk for breakfast – Hemp milk is great over cereal, and just like cow’s milk, it provides 30% of the calcium and 25% of the vitamin D you need.
4. Use supplements – This was the first suggestion my doctor had for me when we learned of my son’s food allergies. A calcium supplement such as Os-Cal with Vitamin D provides 50% of the daily value for both calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D actually aids in the absorption of calcium, so taking the two together makes perfect sense.
5. Send the kids outside for 5-10 minutes of sunshine – Sun is the best natural source of vitamin D. Ten minutes of exposed skin in a sunny climate, two or three times a week is all you need. Be sure not to use sunscreen for that time, so the rays can be absorbed into the skin.