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Eat Smart: Bone Up on Calcium (FN1434)

Children ages 9 to 13 need 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day to keep their bones and teeth strong. Children ages 4 to 8 need 800 milligrams of calcium per day. They also need vitamin D, which helps the body use the calcium. Milk is fortified with vitamin D. Many foods contain calcium. The best sources are milk, yogurt and cheese. Fish, soy products and nuts also are good sources of calcium. Some fruit juices, cereals, breads, snacks and other foods have added calcium.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist

Shannon Medenwald, Program Assistant (former)


My plate

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

Nacho cheese

Compare your choices. Read food package labels and Nutrition Facts labels. Products that are fortified with calcium are labeled on the package. Low-fat and fat-free milk provide the same amount of calcium as whole milk.

Try these tips:

  • Drink low-fat or fat-free milk with every meal (1 cup of milk has 300 milligrams of calcium).
  • Have low-fat yogurt for a snack or dessert ( 8 ounces of yogurt has 415 milligrams of calcium).
  • Use low-fat or fat-free milk instead of water when making hot cereals or soup.
  • Add low-fat cheese to soups, casseroles or vegetables as a topping (3 tablespoons of cheese has about 300 milligrams of calcium, or 30 percent of the daily value).

Try this easy, reduced-fat, calcium-rich snack:

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

1 (12-ounce) package reduced-fat Mozzarella string cheese

1 egg

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

8 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs, crushed

½ c. prepared spaghetti sauce

Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Remove cheese from packaging and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk egg until foamy. In a small nonstick skillet, mix Italian seasoning with breadcrumbs and place over medium heat. Cook and stir breadcrumbs until lightly browned, about five minutes.

Dip one piece of string cheese in egg until coated and then into toasted breadcrumbs, coating completely. Redip the string cheese in egg and again in breadcrumbs, if desired. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining string cheese and place on baking sheet 1½ inches apart. Spray string cheese lightly with cooking spray. Bake five to six minutes or until heated through.

Serve with warmed spaghetti sauce for dipping.

Makes six servings. Each serving has 200 calories, 10 grams (g) fat, 14 g carbohydrate and 30 percent of the daily value for calcium.

Eat Smart. Play Hard. For more information. This website has information for parents and kids, including fun educational games and recipes.

“Eat Smart. Play Hard.” is an initiative of the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Materials were partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 1/14

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