My 9-year-old daughter doesn’t drink a lot of milk. I’m concerned that she isn’t getting enough calcium in her diet. How much calcium does she need and how can I get her to drink more?
This may be a case of monkey see, monkey drink. A study in an issue of the Journal of Nutrition (Fisher, J.O., et. al, Maternal Milk Consumption Predicts the Tradeoff between Milk and Soft Drinks in Young Girls’ Diets, J.Nutr, 131:246-250, 2001), it was found that moms who drank more milk and less soft drinks, had daughters who followed suit.
On the flipside, moms who opted for soft drinks over milk, had daughters who mimic the same choices in their diet. The study of 180 pairs of moms and their daughters who were approximately 5 years old, is the first to look at the influence of moms’ beverage choices on shaping those of their daughters.
Not surprisingly, the study found that mom-and-daughter pairs that drink more soft drinks rather than milk, end up taking in less of the bone-strengthening mineral, calcium. In fact, daughters who drank more than a serving of soft drinks (12 fluid ounces) consumed about 150 milligrams (mg) less calcium compared to other daughters in the study who drank less than a serving a day of soft drinks. In the study, soft drinks included soda and any non-carbonated beverages that contain little, if any, fruit juice.
This apparent trade-off between milk and soft drinks appears to be common in the school yard. According to the USDA, the consumption of milk by young Americans has decreased by 16 percent since the late 1970’s, and at the same time, the intake of carbonated soft drinks has increased by about 16 percent.
This isn’t good news, as the most recent USDA nationwide food consumption survey shows that females, ages 9 through 70, are, on average, only getting about 50 to 75 percent of their daily dietary calcium.
Your calcium requirements change with your age:
- Children ages 4 through 8 need 800 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily
- 9- through 18-year-olds need 1,300 mg a day
- 19 to 50-year-olds need 1,000 mg a day
- 51-plus years old would benefit with 1,200 mg of calcium daily
A serving from the dairy group provides about 300 milligrams of calcium.
It looks like daughters, as well as moms and grandmothers, could all benefit if we “Got Milk.”
Dr. Jennifer Orlet Fisher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, and one of the researchers of this study, believes that moms may be acting as role models for their daughters by drinking milk regularly. She also believes that if moms have a preference for milk, it may increase the likelihood of having milk readily available, and equally as important, make soft drinks not-so-readily available. “Our pantries should look like what we want our children’s diets to look like,” she says. Dr. Fisher also suggests that if moms are not drinking milk, they should make sure other good sources of calcium are in the home.
One of the easiest ways to increase the milk in the diet is to make it the beverage of choice at every meal. Another way to enjoy it is to blend it into a snack. Combine milk, fresh or frozen (thawed) fruit, a tad of yogurt, and ice in a blender. Whirl and pour for a refreshing mother and daughter snack.