Moms and Dads....do you supplement your veg*n Kids??
A strictly vegan diet generally has some nutritional deficiencies and needs supplementation, most notably for B-12 and other B vitamins (which are primarily found in animal products -- there is *some* in nutr.yeast), iron, thiamin, riboflavin, essential fatty acids, etc...... I do give my kids a multivitamin that's age-appropriate and flax-seed oil and walnuts, nuts and seeds which contribute good polyunsaturated fats and efa's but I"m thinking I should be supplementing with B-12, possibly other vitamins, and iron.... I do provide as much a healthy diet as possible and even try 'sneaking' in foods but they don't always want to eat nuts and avocados, etc....At the moment I give them a lacto-ovo diet because adequate fat is super important for brain development and function and they are growing at such an accelerated rate, and this is what I'm comfortable with.... At the moment, I don't want to be giving them a million supplements a day to take which could be costly $$$ as well as difficult to administer(especially because of tastes, etc) It occurred to me that if I gave them a few ounces of fish 2 -3x a week that I wouldn't need all these supplements for them save for the daily multi.... because of the intrinsic factor in fish (animal proteins in general) a lot of these possible deficiencies could be met...
Anyways, I have not bought or fed them fish (yet?) , but I am thinking about the idea of supplementing their diet with either some supplements or possibly some fish to make sure everything is covered... I read a lot of extensive nutrition material (that is what I majored in actually) and I've read that B12 deficiency can lead to neurological damage, etc...
In addition, the iron in their diet (in any veg kid's diet) is non-heme (from plant foods) iron which is less readily absorbed than heme iron (from animal foods) -- about 50% less. Calcium in foods also blocks some absorption of iron, too, so this is something to think about as well as orange juice, tofu, soymilk and other foods contain calcium which can be canceling out a lot of the iron. I do get calcium-fortified orange juice and soymilk but I was thinking of getting a non-fortified one as well so as not to cancel out the iron absorption....anyways, there is a ton of menu/diet planning to make sure there are the right nutrients combined at the same meal, etc....
Any positive input is appreciated. I have been veg for more than 5 years and previously never would have opened my mind up to this concept but just recently thought about this because I think it may be nutritionally superior, rather than in alignment with my own (selfish) personal beliefs about animal welfare, environment, etc.... I'm still doing research on this and am interested in what's best for their development. There were actually professional academic studies comparing kids raised on macrobiotic vegan diets versus omni diets. The macro kids went omni from age 6 on and were compared in adolescence to kids who were omni from birth and there was a lot of nutritional deficiencies, mainly B vitamins... I will look for the journal later and cite this study....so this is kind of a real issue.
Feel free to share your experiences as parents, or yourselves as non-parents if you take any supplements or of links to credible articles, etc....
Anyways, as I stated, I have been a veggie for 5+ years and my kids have been veg since birth so it's really not necessary to post flame comments like 'Oh my god this is a veggie board...blah blah blah....', etc.... I'm just looking for positive feedback about different options and supplements, etc out there that are currently working for my fellow vegwebbers, thanks! :)
Does their multi-vite have B12? Sometimes I'll occasionally (read: once a month if that) take a multi-vite if I remember, and on a nutrition project using a diet analysis thing, I was getting like 8000 percent DV of B12 if I took the vitamins!! Aside from that, I don't really know, and I don't have kids, so no other advice really, except that a lot of "veg*n" deficiencies are usually kinda over-hyped. I don't eat terribly well and pay almost no attention to nutrients (wewps) but every time I've had my blood tested, everything was fine, but I guess with kids, stuff is more important.
I give my kid a vegan calcium chewable sometimes. Our doctor only recommends that I give her flax oil and avocado for the good fats. I've known one person with a B-12 deficiency, and it almost crippled her for life before the doctor's could figure it out. However, she wasn't vegan, or even vegetarian, and it had more to do with her body than her diet. I think my daughter probably gets enough B-12 from fortified soymilk, cereals, and nutritional yeast. There are vegetarian B-12 supplements if you feel it necessary. Our pediatrician said it is totally possible to give your kids the same nutrients without the fish oil, as did my OB...Do what you feel you should, but may I suggest speaking with a VEG FRIENDLY nutritionist. It is totally doable.
remember when picking a B12 supplement, (if u do) that the RDA is 2 micrograms. In Australia, u can't get B12 by itself with that little B12 in it - the only supplement I've found of B12 alone is 1 milligram (1000 micrograms). I took it for a few months because I was borderline B12 deficient (vegan for one year, no fortified foods ,.... oops). In those few months (not even daily doses) my B12 returned to normal. If your soy milk/other commonly consumed 'replacement' beverage is B12 fortified, your kids are unlikely to need supplements.
Also vit C enhances iron absorption.
And these days, mercury or other heavy metal contamination is a worry in seafood, especially predatory fish, (unfortunately these are the fish rich in essential fatty acids). Seriously consider flax seed oil as an alternative.
Certainly consult a veg friendly (but unbiased) nutrition professional if you can find one. Even the Food and Drug Association admits that vegetarianism is appropriate for all stages of the life style. Veganism, apart from B12, calcuim, is not that different.
Oh, the study with macrobiotic diets - those are not healthy (unless possibly they are extremely carefully managed), unlike a regular vegan diet, which can be very healthy. I'll keep an eye out for studies relevent for you and post links if I can. :-) Good luck
Dalida, I wanted to tick more than one box in you poll but couldn't. I give my 2 yr old an Omega oil blend of Flax, Hemp, blackcurrant & evening primrose designed for children. In addition I give him an iron syrup since he was found severely deficient at age 1 and 2 tablets of spirulina powder in juice.
Like your kids he is ovo-lacto (very little lacto as he's somewhat sensitive) and so I don't worry about B12. It's present in eggs, right? His rice milk is fortified with calcium, B12, Vit D so I presume he is ok. Oh and he had a blood test last month and his iron & B12 levels are fine.
I too thought about adding fish to his diet but couldn't find any organic fresh fish where I live (NZ) and like another poster here, am concerned about the heavy metals found in oily fish. So no fish for us...phew lucky me.
Hope this helps.
My boys are not vegan, they do occasionally eat meat, so I don't worry too much. Their soy milk is fortified, and I put flax meal into their peanut butter so they get that. My daughter, 9 mo, who is vegan still I may give a multi to when older. We shall see. I run very B12 defficent, even when I was an omni, my system just dosen't absorb it well, so I get a B12 shot every month. If my kids are prone to defficiencys too they may need more than just fortified milk.