Health: Doctors warn: Do not feed small children vegan

Youth doctors warn against a vegan diet for infants and small children.

Health: Doctors warn: Do not feed small children vegan

Youth doctors warn against a vegan diet for infants and small children. The child's organism reacts extremely sensitively to a lack of nutrients, emphasized the professional association of pediatricians and adolescent doctors (BVKJ) in North Rhine-Westphalia on World Vegan Day on November 1st.

For good body growth and the healthy development of all organs, especially the brain, many substances are needed in sufficient quantities, explained the spokesman for the BVKJ North Rhine, Axel Gerschlauer. With a vegan diet, however, the supply of protein, certain fatty acids, vitamins or trace elements should be assessed as critical.

Even small fluctuations and undersupply could damage an infant's growing and therefore particularly sensitive organs, said Gerschlauer. In particular, neurological development and mental health could be “massively and permanently” endangered.

Mixed diet recommended

Almost ten percent of adults in Germany are now vegetarian - without meat and meat products - or vegan, i.e. without any animal products such as milk or eggs, the association reported. Many parents also fed their children a vegetarian or vegan diet. Meatless diets for young people are considered feasible under certain conditions. But a vegan diet is not recommended, especially in infancy and toddlerhood.

Children should eat a mixed diet, with a moderate consumption of meat and animal products such as milk and cheese, it said. A vegan diet lacks important nutrients that would have to be obtained from other sources. This is only possible to a limited extent through natural foods; sometimes - as with the important vitamin B12 - it is only possible with dietary supplements.

If older children and young people consciously eat a vegan diet because of animal welfare or environmental aspects, that is commendable. According to the BVKJ North Rhine, you then need qualified advice and regular blood tests to ensure and monitor the intake of all important nutrients. If a nursing mother follows a vegan diet, she should take vitamin B12 supplements and monitor her blood levels.

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