Plant-Based Calcium Sources Ideal for Meeting Children’s New Intake Recommendations, Say Nutrition Experts
WASHINGTON—To reach the recommended dietary allowance for calcium, children ages 1 through 8 need 200 milligrams more calcium per day than previous adequate intake recommendations suggested, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The best way to meet these new requirements is to add more calcium-rich vegetables, beans, and other plant foods to children’s diets, say doctors and dietitians with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
“The most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes, or ‘greens and beans,’” says PCRM director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “Broccoli, collards, kale, and other greens are loaded with highly absorbable calcium and a host of other important nutrients. They’re also low in fat and cholesterol-free.”
Fortified juices and plant milks are another healthful way to increase calcium in the diet, say PCRM dietitians. Calcium-fortified orange and apple juices as well as enriched soy and rice milks contain 300 milligrams or more of calcium per cup in a highly absorbable form.
In addition to increasing healthful plant foods in the diet, lowering salt and animal protein intake will reduce calcium loss and promote bone health. Nutrition researchers have found that protein from animal products might stimulate bone breakdown and encourage calcium loss from the body.
Building children’s diets from fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes helps reduce this excess calcium loss and protect bones. Scientific studies show that adding healthful plant-based foods to the diet also helps ward off obesity and other chronic diseases affecting America’s children at an alarming rate.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.