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Eunice Kennedy Shriver
National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
Addressing problems with milk and milk products
Addressing problems with milk and milk products

For some children and teens, getting 1,300 mg of calcium each day isn't easy. Learn more about helping them get enough calcium in the following situations:

What if children don't like milk?

If it is a question of taste, there are plenty of ways to get calcium into the diet:

  • a doctor with her clipboardTry flavored low-fat or fat-free milk, such as chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. Flavored milk has the same amount of calcium as plain milk.
  • Make low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt smoothies. These can be made at home or there are ready-made versions available at many grocery stores.
  • In moderation, low-fat or fat-free ice cream and frozen yogurt are
    calcium-rich treats.
  • Serve non-milk sources of calcium, such as calcium-fortified soy beverages or orange juice.

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What about people who have lactose intolerance?

a doctor smilingIndividuals with lactose intolerance are unable to digest significant amounts of lactose due to an inadequate amount of the enzyme lactase.

Clinical symptoms of lactose intolerance can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating. The severity of symptoms differs, often depending on the amount of lactase remaining in the body and how much lactose has been consumed.

There are three main types of lactose intolerance:

  • Primary lactose intolerance is the most common form of lactase deficiency, in which individuals who were once able to digest lactose begin experiencing symptoms of digestive discomfort with no history or signs of underlying intestinal disease.

  • Secondary lactose intolerance is the result of a gastrointestinal disease, such as severe gastroenteritis, carcinoid syndrome, or radiation enteritis.

  • Congenital lactose intolerance, a lifelong complete absence of lactase, such as galactosemia, is relatively rare. However, it is not uncommon for secondary lactose intolerance to be misdiagnosed during the newborn period as congenital lactose intolerance.

Individuals vary in their degree of lactose intolerance, but even children and teenagers with primary lactose intolerance can usually consume 8 to 12 ounces (1 to 1 ½ cups) of milk without experiencing symptoms.

For more information on lactose intolerance and calcium strategies for those with the condition, check out Milk Matters Lactose Intolerance: Information for Health Care Providers.

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What about weight concerns related to milk and milk products?

Some tweens and teens avoid milk because they think it is fattening.

Low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products are healthy food choices that are not high in fat or calories. They can be included in a healthy diet without adding to overall fat.

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