Parents who eat vegan often have the desire to also feed their children plant-based. So far, meaningful nutritional recommendations for vegan nutrition in children and adolescents have been lacking. One thing is certain: only those who have extensive nutritional knowledge, put a balanced diet on their feet and have regular medical checks can give their offspring a healthy vegan diet.
Eat kids vegan or not?
Many vegans in this country face the same problem: There is hardly any reliable health information for vegan children and adolescents. Most parents have to find answers to questions such as: Which plants are good for my child? Does the vegan diet in children cover this with the necessary nutritional needs? And how much does my child have to consume every day to stay healthy?
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) publicly advises on its website "for safety reasons" of a vegan Nutrition for children and Infants from: "The DGE considers a vegan diet unsuitable for all children," it says. In discussions with media representatives, however, DGE spokeswoman Antje Gahl distanced herself from this recommendation: with a varied menu, vegan nutrition in children is quite possible. Assuming critical nutrients are supplemented and parents get regular advice.
However, parents are still looking in vain for helpful tips and, above all, reliable information on children’s nutritional needs. The DGE is silent. Vegans need an individual recommendation, Gahl justifies, that the specialist society cannot cope with.
Dr. tries to fill this information gap Markus Keller. He is a nutritionist and focuses on alternative forms of nutrition. Keller published books on vegetarian nutrition and, among other things, wrote articles for the website of the German Vegetarian Association (VEBU). He sees no problem in feeding children free of animal products, provided that parents keep an eye on the critical nutrients in children’s vegan diets.
The following information about the vegan diet in children and adolescents come from Dr. Markus Keller, the Vegan Society Austria and the Vegan Society Switzerland.
Important nutrients in the vegan diet of infants
breast-feeding is the best for the baby: it ensures the optimal supply of nutrients, passes on antibodies to the child and strengthens the mother-child bond.
At the earliest from the fifth, at the latest after the seventh month of life, complementary foods should also be on the menu to ensure the child’s full energy requirements. At the start of complementary foods, well-tolerated vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin and fennel are suitable. If the toddler prefers fruit, parents can hand over a puree of apples, pears or bananas. Millet is a very good one Iron Supplierfor vegan kids. In addition, it is gluten-free and low in allergens – which applies equally to amaranth and quinoa.
For an ideal supply with long-chain Omega-3 fatty acidshigh-quality rapeseed, linseed or hemp oils are suitable, which are added to the porridge for nutrient enhancement. In order to avoid a disturbance of the bone metabolism (rickets), the infant needs enough Vitamin D ingest. The body produces it itself with the help of sunlight, but parents should supplement their children’s meals with vitamin D supplements daily. In the low-sun months of October and March, experts strongly recommend a daily dose of ten micrograms of vitamin D. Also Vitamin B12–supplementsare essential to avoid irreparable brain and nerve damage and to ensure a healthy, vegan diet. So that the body’s memory is replenished after birth, 0.4 milligrams are necessary up to the fifth month of life and 0.5 milligrams daily from the sixth.
In order to meet the increased energy requirements, the baby should be between the seventh and tenth months of life high protein foods be introduced. Nuts, cereals and legumes increase the energy density of the meal as well as pureed tofu and soy yogurt.
Veganism in preschool and school children
Parents of children of this age should be on a low fiber diet. Children have small stomachs and too much fiber can result in the child not getting enough nutrients. Instead, the food should be sufficiently healthy fats Contained in the form of avocados, seeds, muses and soy products. In addition, it is advisable to offer the child high-quality oils such as linseed oil and rapeseed oil. The body of one to three year olds needs 3 teaspoons of oil daily, of which at least a quarter teaspoon should be linseed oil. Four to 13 year olds should get a teaspoon of linseed oil and a tablespoon of rapeseed oil every day.
calcium is essential for the development of bones and teeth. Good sources are fortified soy milk, tahini, molasses and soy meat. Green vegetables such as savoy cabbage and kale also contribute to a proper calcium supply and support the vegan diet in children. Vitamin C ensures the ideal absorption of iron, which is plentiful in whole grain cereals and green vegetables.
As with all vegans, must Vitamin B12 also supportive in schoolchildren. You need five micrograms a day for age-appropriate development. On dark days, there are 20 micrograms Vitamin D useful in the form of food supplements.
Growth phases and especially puberty result in a significant increase in nutrients and energy. This primarily affects girls between ten and 13 and Boys between twelve and 15 years too. Since the bone density is set in adolescence, it is important to use the daily dishes calcium sources upgrade. In girls it increases iron requirements also enormous. The blood loss during menstruation means that a lot of valuable iron is lost, which should be returned to the body in the form of kale, quinoa and dried fruit. Iron supplements should only be used if the doctor has diagnosed iron deficiency.
Young people also need more proteins. A sporty 16-year-old who weighs 60 kilograms needs 54 grams of protein a day to develop in the best possible way. For less athletic adolescents, the reference value is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight in girls, and 0.1 grams in boys.
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D have to be supplemented in adolescents, the need approaches that of adults.
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