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. 



About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on June 30, 2007, in Celiac Disease, Cooking/Baking/Food/Recipes, Dairy-free, Digestive Woes, Medical Stuff, Motherhood, Parenting, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I grew up without milk. I agree the calcium added to milk tastes bad, but I’ve always kind of liked the powder added to orange juice. That’s the way I got my calcium as a kid, before I could swallow pills.

  2. Here is a calcium chart that may help you out –

    Beyond the tablets, I am not sure how to fortify the homemade stuff, but will let you know if I find out! Not on the above list is homemade chicken broth. I don’t know how much is in it, but they estimate quite a bit. Since chicken broth is usually (I don’t know your child’s allergy list) hypoallergenic, inexpensive to make, and palatable to most kids, a lot of food allergy moms make it for their little allergic tots.

    The OJ comment above is a good one. There have been some pretty good studies out that have actually found high fruit intake is linked to strong bones, more so than calcium. Tie that with the fortification, and it could be a winner. Good luck!

  3. Can’t you buy O.J. fortified with Vitamin C and Calcium?

  4. TUMS = calcium carbonate (CaCO3) + sugar, color, etc (approx. 5¢ per 300mg tablet at
    Whiting = calcium carbonate (CaCO3) ($4 per pound (approx 1/4¢ per 300 mg) at

  5. Alas, citrus (including orange juice) is one of the things Wes can’t have. However, we’re experimenting with it… he seems to be handling it a lot better than he used to. Used to be that even SPRITE made him puke immediately, due to the citrus content, which is only natural flavorings, not even any juice. Oranges, orange juice, stuff w/ lemon juice in it, similarly produce(d) a nearly instantaneous puking reaction.

    For obvious reasons, I’m a little citrus gunshy.

    I am definitely considering adding calcium powder to the rice milk (or other drinks, though the only other juice we regularly drink is apple)… I’d prefer it to be calcium citrate, or some other highly-absorbable form of calcium. Both our pediatrician and my OB told me a long time ago that it is inadvisable to take Tums or other calcium-containing antacid just for its calcium-delivering properties… I think it’s because it — of course — depletes the acid in one’s stomach, which can lead to other digestive problems… which is why the liquid calcium I purchased was “preacidified” with citric acid…

    Obviously, we *can* take a calcium supplement, and we all have been — well, all we non-milk-drinkers have been. I’m just trying to streamline the process and make up for any potential forgetfulness. We’re always drinking rice milk; I don’t *always* remember everyone’s supplements.

  6. Oh, I wouldn’t recommend adding it to apple juice. IMO that was the most vile concoction I’ve ever drunk. And my dad was a naturopathic doctor, so I’ve drunk some vile concoctions! Maybe you could consider adding the powder and some strawberries to your rice milk? Fruit flavor really helps blend that calcium powder taste in.

  7. I wish I could offer some useful advice but I can’t. I am wondering, however, if Kiko’s two-month-long cold, which has now turned to wheezing, is related to dairy products. He’s now been put on asthma inhalers, which I’m not happy about but feel I don’t have much choice over right now. I’m going to wait and see how he goes and if these viruses clear up then consider altering his diet again. He has glue ear and we’ve been referred to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor so I might ask her opinion too. Mind you, he’s hardly drinking any milk at all now but his congestion and wheezing is getting steadily worse so I’m thinking probably there is no connection or maybe it’s something else. It’s so hard, isn’t it? If you allergy-proof their diets, they’re still going to miss out on nutrients! I hope you’re all feel loads better. When everybody’s ill for so long it’s so horrible and draining.

  8. You should be able to alter the pH of the calcium carbonate (8.7 – 10) by mixing it with something more acidic such as water (7), tea (5.5), apple juice (3.5), tonic water (3.0), cola (2.5), or lemon juice (2.4). Gastric acid is commonly in the 1.5 – 2.0 pH range, but healthy saliva is more like 7.0, which I think is what you’re aiming for for things to ingest.

  9. I need to find a better way to take calcium myself. My dr. recently told me I was “non-compliant” in this regard. It’s just that after a week of faithfully ingesting it, I grow to despise every form of chewable calcium I try, including the fancy chocolates.

  10. Sara ~ Your dad was a naturopath??? That is SO cool!! And, OK. I won’t try the calcium powder in apple juice.

    Helen ~ I, as well, hope you pinpoint the source of Kiko’s super-long illnesses! We’re finally doing much better over here, thank God!!!!!

    John ~ Thanks for the suggestions. I have lately been more careful to take *all* of my supplements with something more acidic than just plain water. We have RO water, so it’s probably exactly neutral… You got me thinking, though. I think I’ll get some strips to test the pH of the rice milk before and after I add the calcium powder. (I did find some that is non-flavored, and is a mixture of calcium citrate and calcium carbonate, which I will be purchasing sometime in the near future, once our current supplements are nearly gone.)

    Erin ~ “non-compliant” HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You supplement rebel, you!! Try the fruit-chew variety instead of the chocolate ones. They have (last I checked) them at Trader Joe’s, for cheaper than the ones at Sprouts (and the internal packaging is identical, which leads me to believe that they’re manufactured by the same company.)

  11. Have you heard of/tried a product called DariFree by Vance’s Foods? “DariFree™ is not only Fat-free and Cholesterol-free, it is also free of Gluten, Casein, Soy, Rice and contains no MSG.” It is also lactose free and has as much calcium as milk. Personally, I use it for baking but have run across “ice cream” and other recipes that use it as well. It also comes in a chocolate flavored powder.


  12. I want to try your rice milk recipe out. Thanks for sharing!

    My mother-in-law is allergic to milk. One of her allergy doctors told her to soak eggs shells in lemon juice overnight and then drink the milky liquid that it created (after straining out any remaining egg-shells) for her calcium. This is of course calcium citrate and won’t help if you have problems with citrus. But it is another calcium source. obviously, you would want to sterilize the egg shells before trying it. I’ve tried it and it’s pretty vile-tasting by itself, but I’m wondering what a little sugar would do for it?

  13. I just wanted to let everyone know that almost 85 per cent of the population is lactose intolerant to many degrees from a little to alot. As someone once said, “Cow’s milk is for calves not peope”. I also had many problems with my children and later found out myself with dairy products. My migraines and sneezing and wheezing stopped at age 35 due to having to give up dairy to nurse my son. I wish more people realized this and stopped eating any kind of dairy product. I suffered for years before I found out about it. Lucky my kids were saved from having dairy products while they were growing up.

  14. Milk is not inherently a bad food in all, it is, in fact extremely healthy in it’s proper form. The problem with milk bought in the store is that the cows are fed on concentrates, especially super high protein soy, instead of their natural food of grass. This changes the type of fats in the milk they produce, and weakens the cows health considerably. Then the milk is pasteurizes, destroying what health the milk still had, this heat denatures proteins, and destroys vitamins and enzymes needed to absorb the milk properly. It turns it into a food that would naturally ripen and sour in a healthy manner, to a food that will rot and make you sick.

    The Bible talks about (namely goats) milk in only positive light, and says it is a good food.

    Check out , you may find you are not allergic to milk at all (some are still allergic however, if the animal being milked is being fed grain they are allergic too). We have our own goats and enjoy raw milk.

  15. I see that this blog is pretty old, but wondering what you all figured out?
    I am lactose intolerant myself, went totally dairy free myself due to nursing a baby that couldn’t take any dairy, am now on my second baby (nursing dairy free) and this time a Pediatrician tells me that she (now 15 months old) can’t get enough calcium alone from breastfeeding. We also use rice milk. I just today tried some liquid calcium with them that was suppose to be bubble gum flavored…. they didn’t like it, then i wondered if it was because I put the (one drop of D3 oil orange flevor) in with it.

    I don’t know what to do, I started wondering if I can put the liquid calcium in baking? anyone know. It is called Animal Parade made by Natures Plus. it does say to put in fridge after opening. Which makes me think probably no.

    IM at a loss,.. anyone who can help please let me know,

    • Lisa, I think I can HALF help you. Your 15 month old WILL get enough calcium from nursing. HOWEVER (and this is a big HOWEVER), your body will steal calcium from YOU — from your bones — in order to give your baby adequate calcium, if YOU are not getting enough. So, as long as you supplement well, your nursing baby should be fine. For your older child, though, you may end up in the same boat as me: Just trying to get calcium any which way you can. For years, I made my own rice milk, but lately, I’ve been “lazy” and buying rice milk which has calcium in it. Also, I discovered that my non-dairy child can eat SHEEP cheese — not goat, not cow. He has some every day. (I get both sheep feta and sheep pecorino romano from Trader Joe’s.) So, that helps a bit. Also, we do liquid calcium supplement, Lifetime brand. Technically, you can bake with liquid calcium, but it greatly affects the flavor, because all the liquids I’ve found are “pre-acidified”. An acid helps with calcium absorption, but it also gives a tart/sour taste to the liquid, and that makes for some funky-tasting baked goods. You can bake with powdered calcium, but all of the ones I’ve purchased have a gritty texture that is very evident in the baked goods. My next attempt at getting more calcium into my kids’ diets is going to be to get some silica. Silica is a precursor to calcium and is supposed to work better in mineralization in the body. There are a number of different silica supplements, many of them liquid (like this one, which also has more info about silica:…. I just don’t know how it tastes, and as you know, taste matters to little children!!

      P.S. About D3 — I have found that my kids (even my little 25 month old) chew up a tiny 2000 IU D3 tab just fine when taken with their regular chewable vitamins. (We currently have Nature Made D3, just from Target.)

  16. So okay what or how are you getting in the calcium?

  1. Pingback: University Update - Asthma - So… how to get calcium into my non-dairy kids?

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