Vegetarian Eating for Children and Adolescents

Laurie Dunham, MS, RD, LD; Linda M. Kollar, RN, MSN

Disclosures

J Pediatr Health Care. 2006;20(1):27-34. 

In This Article

Cobalamin (B12)

Vitamin B12 is necessary for cell division and blood formation. Vegetarians can meet their needs for this vitamin by eating fortified foods, eggs, dairy products, or taking a supplement (Novy, 2000). Nonanimal sources of vitamin B12 include cereals, breads, nutritional yeast, and some fortified soy products. Because a high folic acid intake can hide the symptoms of B12 deficiency, neurologic symptoms may occur before detection. Therefore, it is extremely important to assess dietary intake in young vegetarians as early as possible. If dietary intake is inadequate, a B12 supplement will be necessary to prevent a deficiency. Breastfeeding mothers who follow a vegan style of eating should be cautioned about the potential neurologic disturbances that could occur in their baby if their diet is deficient in vitamin B12 (Graham, Arvela, & Wise, 1992; Johnson & Roloff, 1982; Weiss, Fogelman, & Bennett, 2004).

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