I have an 8-year-old who is unable to eat dairy products and taking TUMS daily at his doctor’s recommendation for calcium.

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I have an 8-year-old son who is unable to eat dairy products, due to GI (gastrointestinal) problems. He has been taking at his Dr.’s recommendation, TUMS daily for calcium replacement. Recently, we have found a soy-based drink that he enjoys. The box that the drink comes in states that 8 ounces of the drink contain 30% of the daily requirement of calcium. It doesn’t specify if that’s for adults or children. I presume it’s for adults. My question is: if my son drinks 4 glasses of this beverage daily, will he be receiving a sufficient amount of calcium? Will we still need to augment with the TUMS? Thank you for your help.

Is your son allergic to or lactose intolerant of milk products?

If your son is not allergic to soy and or rice beverages, they would be appropriate for him especially if he enjoys the taste. However, it is recommended that he get 800 milligrams of calcium daily at his age. The label of the soymilk should provide you with information regarding the calcium content of the soymilk and yes is based on adult needs which is 1,000 milligrams. From the label, you could determine how many glasses it would require to reach his calcium requirement. You might also check the label to make sure that the soymilk is fortified with vitamin A, D, riboflavin and vitamin B-12 that are normally found in fortified cow’s milk. Foods other than milk that is high in calcium include calcium-fortified orange juice, broccoli, kale, tofu, calcium-fortified bread, breakfast cereals, breakfast bars and snacks.

I would suggest offering your son food sources of calcium along with the soy milk to meet the 800-milligram requirement daily rather than totally relying on Tums as a supplement. Tums might have adequate amounts of calcium if you take enough to meet your Recommended Dietary Allowances, but with Tum’s effects of lowering stomach acidity, Tums might affect other nutrients (iron) that depend on an acid stomach environment for absorption. Your son can get adequate amounts of calcium through the foods listed above.

The following is a list of descriptive terms used regarding calcium content of labeled foods:

  • High-calcium: 200 milligrams or more per serving
  • Good source of calcium: 100-190 milligrams per serving
  • More or added calcium: at least 100 milligrams more per serving than unenriched food.