Calcium source? Dairy and corn allergies

My 23 month old son has many food allergies, the two most problematic are all dairy and derivatives thereof, and corn and all those derivatives. I nursed him for 11 months - he weaned himself - and when I ate any of those foods, we saw a reaction. The problem is that while he cannot drink milk, he also cannot drink formula because the first ingredient in all formulas is corn syrup solids.

I have been giving him a couple of Tums everyday for calcium, and he drinks nothing but juice and water (about 8-10 cups a day - he's always thirsty!) but I want to know if I'm doing the right thing, if his nutritional needs are being met, etc. He loves fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains - I make sure every meal has some of each. He's not crazy about meats, but he'll eat them mixed with other foods like pastas or potatoes. He's growing just a bit above the average rate and his weight is perfect. He's very intelligent and bright - I just don't want to be jeopardizing his bone development.

Thank you.

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Angela,

There are some other alternatives out there to help you guarantee your son's bone health is optimized, which may be better than the TUMs. To begin with, vitamin D is important to have with the calcium to aid in its utilization. That is why you often see calcium supplements also supplemented with vitamin D and why milk is also fortified with it.

Try replacing the Tums with a child's multi vitamin supplement that contains both calcium and vitamin D. The supplement is apt to contain only part of the necessary amount of calcium needed in a day because to put 100% in one pill would make the pill huge. Therefore, try getting more calcium from foods he eats (include spinach, canned salmon with the bones, tofu) , and by including a fortified soy milk or grain drink.

There are many calcium and vitamin D fortified non-dairy drinks available. Many are sweetened with brown rice syrup and other non-corn products. They are also very tasty, delicious alone or on cereal. You can find your biggest selection of these drinks in a health food store. Although they may be in the refrigerated section, they are shelf stable and are usually found in the aisles.

If you don't have a health food store nearby, then you can request a catalog for Harvest Direct by calling 1-800-835-2867.

Milk is often a significant source of protein in an toddler's diet. Since your son is not drinking milk or eating dairy foods, be sure you include other protein rich foods in his diet. Some meat or fish, or legume grain combinations are good. Also include eggs and nut butters.

Having your son drink water for thirst is great habit to cultivate. However, serving more juice than 4 to 6 ounces a day is not. Most juices offer nothing more than calories. Choose one that is vitamin C rich. Beyond what he needs to get his vitamin C, juice will fill him up for more important foods. However, if you are serving nutrient rich juices like fresh squeezed orange juice, carrot juice, or other home made juices than you may use some of them in place of other fruits and vegetables.

In sum, switch from Tums to a child designed vitamin supplement containing calcium and vitamin D, add a fortified soy beverage, limit juice to 6 or less ounces, and include calcium rich and protein rich foods in his diet. These steps will help insure your son grows up with strong and healthy bones.

Thank you for writing.

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