Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Big Calcium Dilemma

When I went vegan almost three years ago, I was just starting to wean my then one year-old son.  I was immediately confronted with the question of what to give my baby for milk once he made the transition off the breast.  As a new vegan and neurotic mother, I read a lot about non dairy milks, raising vegan children with enough calcium, dairy farming...you can imagine.  This was not a decision I made lightly or uninformed.  Ultimately, I decided on rice milk.  It was a great choice for us and one that my son drank enthusiastically up until a few weeks ago when Consumer Reports issued news about rice and arsenic.  Yikes is an understatement for how I felt when I read the report.  The story recommended that rice drinks be eliminated from the diet of all children under 5.  My son is 3.  I went into panic mode about what to give my little guy instead.

This issue was actually very timely, as my oldest daughter hates cow's milk and was rarely drinking it, and my middle daughter was drinking less milk in her diet every day.  It made me look at my whole family and their calcium intake (always try to find the silver lining!).  After two weeks of trying alternative non dairy milks - and we tried them all to no avail, I consulted with my pediatrician, who broke down the amounts of calcium each of my children needed each day and some good sources - broccoli, almonds, salmon.  As a vegan with a wide liking of all things veggies and leafy greens, I have no problem getting my fair share through kale, broccoli, legumes and nuts every day.  My kids, on the other hand, don't share my love of leafy greens as much.  Luckily, I do infuse them every morning with a fair share of broccoli and kale through a fresh green juice that I make them (more on that in an upcoming post).  They do eat some cheese and snack on almonds and other nuts.  Mix in a daily calcium supplement as suggested by my pediatrician, and I was assured they were back on track for calcium.  Whew!
Calcium supplement for kids
Adora calcium supplement

As for the supplement, we have started on Adora (available at Whole Foods) after talking with a friend who also gives it to her daughter who doesn't like milk.  Thanks to the chocolate taste and look (it literally looks like a piece of chocolate), my kids gobble it down with their green juice in the morning (it is best absorbed with citrus).  I found the dark chocolate variety has only small traces of milk, (a compromise between me and my husband.)

What sources do you give your kids for calcium?  Do you use supplements and if so, what are your favorites for your family?