What about calcium? My 5-year-old doesn’t like most dairy products, including milk. Do you consider calcium supplements vitamins? Are they important?—Anonymous
Dietary recommendations are for about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. That would be three to four servings of some kind of dairy, or five servings of spinach or other dark leafy greens. Calcium also comes through calcium-fortified cereal or juice, tortillas, figs, and a few other foods.
For children who are lactose-intolerant, a calcium supplement is often recommended because it can be hard to get up to the recommended amounts without dairy. It’s not impossible — calcium-fortified foods can have very high levels — but you need to be more cautious.
In your case, it’s a good idea to look a little more closely at your child’s diet. If they are reliably eating other foods with calcium (other dairy products like yogurt or cheese) or calcium-fortified foods, you’re fine. If their diet is really limited in these ways, a supplement could make sense.