Earth Week Topic: Is a vegetarian diet harmful for children?
For a long time, it was impossible to say whether vegetarian and vegan diets have any health disadvantages or advantages for children compared to omnivorous diets. Omnivores eat both plant and animal products; vegetarians abstain from eating animals, i.e. meat and gelatin; vegans, on the other hand, abstain from all animal products, which then also includes cheese or eggs.
This gap in knowledge was first investigated in a study:
No adverse health effects could be proven in children who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, in vegetarian and vegan children, attention must be paid to the sufficient intake of vitamin B12 and the protein intake must be higher than in omnivore children. The most effective way to ensure vitamin B12 intake is with dietary supplements.
In addition, various nutrient deficiencies have been identified regardless of dietary form, and I would like to point these out to you. Please look out for the following in your child:
Iodine is an important mineral for our thyroid gland. It controls various metabolic functions, such as body temperature, brain and bone growth, and mental functions.
Naturally, iodine is ingested through fish, seafood or sea plants. In addition, iodized salt or supplements can improve your child's iodine balance.
Calcium is a mineral that the body needs for growth and maintenance of bones and teeth.
Of course, we can get calcium from seeds and legumes (like poppy seeds or chickpeas), nuts (like hazelnuts or almonds), herbs (like parsley or cress), dairy products, grains (like oats or buckwheat), tofu, and vegetables (like kohlrabi or green beans). If your child eats enough of these foods, adequate caclium intake can be ensured.
Dietary fibers are indigestible food components. They stimulate digestion and are the food of our intestinal bacteria. As a result, they stabilize blood sugar levels, strengthen our immune system and prevent intestinal diseases.
A well-balanced diet can meet your needs by consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If you want to change your diet, you should increase the proportion of these foods only slowly. Otherwise, you will experience unpleasant flatulence because your intestines are not yet used to it.