Monthly Archives: October 2016
Three minerals—calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium—account for 98% of the body’s mineral content by weight. Calcium and phosphorus play basic roles in countless biochemical reactions at the cellular level. They are also the main components of the skeleton, and without magnesium many metabolic functions could not take place.
Phosphorus is in almost all animal and vegetable foods and is often found in foods that contain calcium. Milk and dairy products, fish bones (such as in canned salmon and sardines), and dark-green, leafy vegetables are the best sources of calcium. Magnesium, like phosphorus, is abundant in animal and plant cells.
Healthy children do not lack phosphorus and magnesium because these minerals are easily absorbed. By contrast, low calcium intakes are very common, especially among adolescent girls who shun milk and dairy foods to avoid fat calories. These girls risk osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones, starting as early as age 30. Nonfat milk, yogurt, and other dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium and do not add unwanted fat calories to the diet.
Mineral absorption is influenced by a number of factors, including certain hormones and vitamin levels. Infants absorb calcium more easily than adults do, and the rate of absorption is increased when other nutrients are around, including the milk sugar lactose, the amino acids lysine and arginine, and vitamin C (eg, calcium-fortified orange juice). Calcium absorption may be decreased by high dietary levels of phosphate, oxalate (in rhubarb and certain leafy green vegetables), or phytate compounds in fiber. Too much protein in the diet may increase the amount of calcium excreted in the urine and decrease the amount available for building bones.
The following are food and ingredients to avoid if your child is allergic to milk.
- Calcium caseinate
- Cheese, cottage cheese
- Condensed milk
- Cow’s milk
- Evaporated milk
- Milk chocolate
- Milk solids
- Powdered milk
- Sherbet (if made with milk)
- Sodium caseinate
A true milk protein allergy usually appears in the first year of life, when an infant’s digestive system is still quite immature.
Milk allergy symptoms may appear anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after the child consumes a milk product, but the most severe symptoms usually occur within half an hour. The most common symptoms are:
- Gastrointestinal/stomach upset
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Less common symptoms include blood in the stool.
In babies, if the milk allergy affects their respiratory system, they also may have chronic nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, cough, wheezing, or difficulty in breathing. The allergy also can cause eczema, hives, swelling, itching, or a rash around the mouth and on the chin due to contact with milk.
If you suspect your baby has an allergy to milk, tell your pediatrician, and be sure to mention whether there’s a family history of allergy. Take your child to the doctor’s office or emergency room immediately if he
- Has difficulty breathing
- Turns blue
- Is extremely pale or weak
- Has generalized hives
- Develops swelling in the head and neck region
- Has bloody diarrhea
If your breastfed infant develops a milk allergy, your pediatrician may recommend that you follow a milk-free diet yourself. (You should take an extra calcium supplement in addition to the prenatal vitamin that you are already taking.) As you wean your baby, delay feeding him cow’s milk as long as possible, and give it very cautiously at first, at the direction of your doctor.
Infants with milk allergy should be given alternatives like soy formula or elemental formula, according to your pediatrician’s guidelines. Ask your doctor to recommend a brand of hypoallergenic formula made with extensive hydrolysate protein, which is processed in a way to avoid allergic reactions. He can not only offer guidance on which formulas to select, but also where to buy them (they’re not available in all stores).
Infants over one year old
If your pediatrician suspects that a milk allergy is present, first he will try eliminating milk and milk products completely for a period of time to see if there is any improvement. If there is, your child may then be given a milk trial—that is, a controlled introduction of milk to the diet. This will reveal whether the symptoms decrease or disappear when milk is avoided and if they reappear when it’s introduced again. This trial of milk should be carried out cautiously and under the supervision of a doctor; don’t experiment by trying to introduce milk on your own—talk with your pediatrician. Infants who are allergic to milk can become sick quickly, even if exposed to only a small amount.
As a parent, you are interested in your child’s health. Your role is to provide healthy food in appropriate portions, and your child’s role is to decide how much to eat. That is why it is important to understand how to provide healthy choices for your child.
Read on for information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about making healthful choices. If you have specific questions about your child’s nutrition, talk with your child’s doctor or a registered dietitian.
Child-sized portions help children accept new foods. Two tips for parents include:
- Serve one-fourth to one-third of the adult portion size, or 1 measuring tablespoon of each food for each year of your child’s age.
- Give less than you think your child will eat. Let your child ask for more if she is still hungry.
How do I know when my child is eating enough?
Children eat when they are hungry and usually stop when they are full. Some parents worry because young children appear to eat very small amounts of food, especially when compared with adult portions. To check your child’s eating pattern, pay attention to his food choices.
- Offer all food groups at every meal. Make sure no one food group is completely left out. If this happens for a few days, don’t worry. However, missing out on a food group for a long time could keep your child from getting enough nutrients.
- Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods within the food groups by modeling good eating yourself. Even within a food group, different foods provide different nutrients.
- A child who is growing well is getting enough to eat.
Building a healthy plate
Over the years, various tools have been created to provide guidance on the type and amount of food Americans should eat. MyPlate (the new healthy eating food icon that replaced MyPyramid) recommends the following:
- Balancing calories. Enjoy your food, but eat less. Avoid oversized portions.
- Foods to increase. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Switch to nonfat or low-fat milk (see “Milk—whole or reduced fat?”).
- Foods to reduce. Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose the foods with lower numbers. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
There is a variety of foods from each food group (the following is a sample list of food choices). The next time you go grocery shopping, try something new.
NOTE: Do not feed children younger than 4 years round, firm food unless it is chopped completely. The following foods are choking hazards: nuts and seeds; chunks of meat or cheese; hot dogs; whole grapes; fruit chunks (such as apples); popcorn; raw vegetables; hard, gooey, or sticky candy; and chewing gum. Peanut butter can be a choking hazard for children younger than 2. If your child has food allergies or is diagnosed with peanut or tree nut allergies, avoid nuts and any food that contains or is made with nut products.