Dietitians warn of the dangers of a vegetarian diet for your child

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Nutritionists have warned that vegetarian children could be at risk of serious health problems, after the NHS issued advice on infant feeding, according to the British Daily Mail.

Milk and dairy products

The NHS Start for Life website, which offers advice and advice for new parents, includes a section on vegetarian children. The NHS recommends that children on a vegan diet need vitamin B12 supplementation and advises parents to give their children plant-based drinks such as soy, oatmeal and almond milk, after the age of one year, if they drink unsweetened and unfortified drinks.

The NHS is also warning parents to exclude cow’s milk and dairy products, which are good sources of nutrients, from a child’s diet without first talking to a GP or dietician.

balanced meals

But some nutrition experts have expressed concern about making children vegetarian at such a young age, especially as more and more cookbooks have recently been published with recipes for vegetarian children.

While most experts believe a vegetarian diet for children can be safe, risks can arise when parents cannot strictly ensure meals and snacks are properly balanced.

Terrifying negative effects

Duane Mellor, registered dietitian and chair of nutrition at Aston University Medical School, said: “If an infant or child doesn’t have enough energy and protein, it can affect their development. If their diet includes low levels of iodine, or if they become iron deficient, their brain development may be negatively affected and even reduce their intellectual abilities.But if the diet lacks vitamin B12, the child may develop anemia and also negatively affect the development of his nerves.

3cm shorter

A study conducted last year under the supervision of University College London, which included the cases of 187 vegetarian and meat and dairy eaters children aged 5 to 10, found that children who follow a diet vegetarian are three centimeters shorter on average, indicating that they grow more slowly than other children. The results also revealed that the bone mineral content of the vegan children was lower than that of the rest of the children, although they also had less body fat and lower levels of bad cholesterol.

Hummus and nuts

Pediatric nutritionist Bahe van de Boer advises “to include a good proportion of foods, which contain carbohydrates and fats from vegetable oils, nut butter, avocado and other high energy foods such than chickpeas, which can meet a child’s daily energy needs, warning that without careful planning of overall energy and nutrient needs there can be nutrient deficiencies that compromise growth and increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Essential nutritional supplements

Parents should also not ignore the advice to use calcium, vitamin D, B12 and iodine supplements, and to include foods containing omega-3, to secure a vegetarian diet from birth, because “the A child’s brain develops rapidly in the early years.” , so proper nutrition is essential to support this early brain development.

The NHS website, in an update published in March 2020, confirmed: Infant formula (which is made from cow’s milk or goat’s milk) is the only suitable alternative to breast milk for children under less than 12 months. Soy formula should only be used on medical advice.

Beans, lentils, broccoli and mango

Children’s nutrition expert Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “Adults on a vegan diet should make sure they mix protein sources, for example eating lots of beans, lentils and wheat, but it can be difficult for children to achieve this”, while Dr Chantal pointed out. Tomlinson, a nutritionist at the Vegetarian Society of England, notes that there are many plant-based foods high in protein, iron and zinc, such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and tofu, and that the absorption of iron can be improved. including a rich source of vitamin C in every meal, such as broccoli, cabbage or mangoes.








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