Considerations in planning vegan diets: children.J Am Diet Assoc 2001; 101(6):661-9JA
This article reviews research on the growth and nutrient intake of vegan children and provides guidelines for counselling parents of vegan children. Although diets of vegan children meet or exceed recommendations for most nutrients, and vegan children have higher intakes of fiber and lower intakes of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than omnivore children, some studies indicate that they may be low in calcium. In addition, bioavailability of zinc and iron from plant foods can be low. Protein needs are slightly higher for vegan children but are easily met with a varied diet that provides adequate energy. Special attention should be given to dietary practices that enhance absorption of zinc and iron from plant foods. Further, good sources of the omega-3 fatty acid linolenic acid should be emphasized to enhance synthesis of the long-chain fatty acid docosahexanoic acid. Dietetics professionals who counsel vegan families should help parents identify good sources of vitamin B-12, riboflavin, zinc, calcium and, if sun exposure is not adequate, vitamin D. This should not be problematic, due to the growing number and availability of fortified vegan foods that can help children meet all nutrient needs. Therefore, with appropriate food choices, vegan diets can be adequate for children at all ages.