By Sandra Gordon
A recent study reveals that teens ages 14 to 18 typically down 18 ounces of soft drinks daily, which is more than double their milk intake. To help your teen meet his calcium quota, encourage him to have at least four 1-cup servings of dairy a day. Stock up on yogurt, yogurt smoothies, low-fat string cheese, and calcium-fortified cereal bars. Besides providing a healthy dose of calcium and vitamin D, dairy products offer a package of nutrients—including riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, zinc, and essential amino acids—all of which aid bone development.
If your teen is lactose intolerant, try having her build up her tolerance by consuming small amounts of milk with food, such as a half-cup of milk on cereal, then gradually increasing amounts. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teens with lactose intolerance should still drink as much milk as they can tolerate. "Drinking milk fosters good bacteria in the intestine that digests lactose," explains Robert P. Heaney, M.D., professor of medicine at Creighton University, in Omaha. Lactose-free milk is also an option, as are dairy products with low levels of lactose, such as cheddar and Swiss cheeses and yogurt containing active cultures.