Knoxville (WVLT) Right now, a gallon of milk will set you back about $5.19.
That's up a couple dollars in just a couple months.
Milk is the main source of Vitamin D in most people's diets, and crucial for children's growing bones.
But how do you balance their nutritional needs and your budget at the same time?
A study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed blood levels of Vitamin D in healthy children ages 6 to 21.
Researchers found 55 percent had lower than recommended Vitamin D levels.
UT Medical Center registered dietitian Virginia Turner says these low Vitamin D levels can lead to muscle and bone weakness and reduced immune system function.
"But it's crucial that teenagers, young children, get the Vitamin D and calcium they need for their skeletal structure that they will have all their life."
Though Vitamin D fortified milk is the main source of Vitamin D in the diet, it's not the only source.
There are other alternatives you can try while milk prices are up.
"But also knowing that any dairy product, you know, yogurt, cheeses are also a good source of calcium and Vitamin D, dark green, leafy vegetables."
Getting Vitamin D from food sources is preferred to calcium supplements, which may not provide any real benefits.
A cheaper, and equally nutritious alternative is powdered milk, which is a non-fat, dry milk solid.
Turner says, "it is a boxed product and it truly is just powder, and you reconstitute it with water."
Vitamin D is also produced within the body as a result of sunlight exposure.
So, some extra time spent exercising or playing outdoors, could have the dual benefits of added Vitamin D, and physical activity.
Researchers say osteoporosis is a major public health issue, particularly among women.
But, at least 90 percent of the maximum bone mass a person will ever attain is obtained by age 18.
So, maximizing bone mass during childhood is key.
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