Fostering a Gentler, Healthier and more Compassionate World for all Living Beings

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Calcium is an important nutrient for growing bones and teeth. Good sources include fortified non-dairy milks and juices, calcium set tofu, baked beans and dark green leafy vegetables low in oxalic acid such as spring greens and kale. Calcium supplementation may be indicated in cases of inadequate dietary intake.

Children regularly exposed to sunlight under appropriate conditions (two to three times per week for about 20-30 minutes on hands and face) appear to have no dietary requirement for vitamin D. Those children who have limited exposure to sunlight or who are dark skinned and have no dietary source of vitamin D require supplements. Only a few foods naturally contain vitamin D (D3, cholecalciferol) and all of these are animal products. Vitamin D3 is usually obtained from lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool and therefore not acceptable to vegans. Foods fortified with a vegan source of vitamin D (D2, ergocalciferol) include margarine, some non-dairy milks and fortified breakfast cereals.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common childhood nutritional problem and is no more likely to occur in vegan than non-vegan children(8). Good sources of iron include whole or enriched grains and grain products, iron fortified cereals, legumes, green leafy vegetables and dried fruits.

Diets of vegan and non-vegan children often contain similar amounts of zinc, though zinc from plant foods is less well absorbed as they contain phytate, which interferes with zinc absorption. Emphasising foods that are good sources of zinc and protein such as pulses and nuts can increase the amount of zinc in the diet and promote absorption. Use of yeast-leavened bread and fermented soya products such as tempeh and miso can also improve zinc absorption(8). Zinc supplements may be needed for young vegan children whose diet is based on high-phytate cereals and legumes(19). FSC and Seven Seas produce vegan vitamin and mineral supplements suitable for children.

Vegan children should use foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take vitamin B12 supplements. A variety of foods fortified with vitamin B12 are available, including some brands of vegan milk, meat substitutes, yeast extract and some breakfast cereals. Vegan Society trademark holders Quest and Vega Nutritionals produce vegan vitamin B12 supplements.
 

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