But if you don’t drink cow’s milk, rest assured that there are plenty of other ways to get adequate calcium in your diet. There are delicious, calcium-fortified “milk alternatives” to choose from, including soy, almond and rice milks (more to come on those below). And beyond beverages, you can get ample calcium from low-fat/nonfat yogurt, reduced-fat cheese, broccoli, kale, almonds, starchy beans, low-fat ice cream, pudding or frozen yogurt and calcium-fortified foods (orange juice, waffles, etc.).
How much milk do you need?
You certainly don’t need milk, but you do need calcium. Because milk is such a rich source, nutritionists often talk about calcium requirements in terms of “milk equivalents,” but you can use any combination of calcium-rich foods (and supplements, if necessary) to meet your daily needs.
- Children 4-8 years old need 800 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about three glasses of milk.
- Children 9-18 years old need 1,300 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about four glasses of milk.
- Adults 18-50 years old need 1,000 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about three glasses of milk.
- Adults over the age of 50 need 1,200 mg calcium per day, or the equivalent of about four glasses of milk.