So… how to get calcium into my non-dairy kids?
(Note: Anyone who prays, please do for my family. We’ve all been so sick the last two weeks, passing around at least two different illnesses. I just got my son Ethan out of a bath of lukewarm/cool water… his temp had climbed to 103.6*, and that is WITH Advil in his system. I’m now doubling up Tylenol & Advil… and with the bath, got him down to 99.6*. That’s great, but what we really need is healing.)
My baby, Audrey, who is nearly 15 months, has been dairy-free since she was about 5 weeks — when I found out that her digestive woes were tied to me, as a nursing mom, ingesting dairy. I tried to give her dairy, starting with yogurt, at about 10 months, and she broke out in head-to-toe eczema. No go.
When I realized that Audrey just couldn’t tolerate dairy at all, it made me think that maybe my 5yo son, Wesley, was having problems with dairy, too. Wes has been gluten-free since we found out, at age 13 months, that he had celiac disease. He has a list of about 8 other things to which he’s allergic and/or intolerant, but up until about March of this year, dairy wasn’t among them. In fact, he lived on corn tortillas, chicken, and cheese. But, his asthma had been growing steadily worse, and his pediatrician had been almost-pressuring us to medicate Wesley for it. We had been over-using his SVN/nebulizer (which delivers an albuterol-containing mist to breathe), which should be used only 1-3 times a week; Wesley needed it 1-3 times a day.
When we took Wesley off of ALL dairy, his asthma cleared up immediately. He SVN usage went down to less than one time a week. At the time of this writing, I think it’s been close to two weeks since we last used it.
We tried goat’s milk and sheep’s milk products for both Wes and Audrey. Audrey broke out in eczema again, and it was apparent that it wasn’t going to work for her. Wes tolerated it a little better; his reaction to both sheep & goat milk is far less severe than it is to cow milk. However, our goal is no wheezing and gasping, not just a little wheezing and gasping.
Since I do a lot of baking, I had also experimented to see if Wes could tolerate a *little* milk in baked goods. He happily ate some gluten-free foccacia that was made with only 1/4 cup milk — but by the end of dinner, he was wheezing again. No go. So, we are no longer using any dairy for either child, which means that, pretty much, other than milk on cereal and for drinking for my hubby and two older boys, our whole family is dairy-free.
Wes already drank pre-packaged rice milk (he’s intolerant of soy)… but when it became apparent that Audrey would need it, too, and that I would need to bake with it, as well, I had to come up with a more nutritious milk-substitute.
I did some experimenting, and came up with a rice milk recipe that is working rather well. It approximates the dairy milk nutritional values of fat, carbs and protein. However, I’ve been somewhat stymied about calcium.
There are a lot of calcium supplements out there, but the chewable ones are fairly expensive (though we are using this kind for Wes now). Ideally, I’d like to add some calcium to the rice milk. There are a bunch of varieties of dissolvable calciums out there… but the “plain” varieties I’ve found would add ONE DOLLAR per quart to just reach a 25% RDV level of calcium per cup, almost doubling the cost. I purchased some liquid calcium that I calculated would add about $0.47/quart, which isn’t awful, cost-wise. However, that is still more than I want to pay. AND it is “acidified” which apparently helps with calcium absorbtion, but also lends to — at best — a yogurty taste to the rice milk, and — at worst — a slightly spoiled-milk taste. Ick.
My next thought is to get some capsules of calcium, and see which ones dissolve in liquid, or at least, don’t make the rice milk gritty, but that could be an expensive experiment… I don’t wanna pay $6 (or whatever) for a container of capsules that won’t work. I mean, eventually, they’d get used — I take a LOT of calcium — but I want to find something that *works*. And isn’t too much money.