Vegetarian Eating for Children and Adolescents

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


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

In This Article


Dairy foods are a natural source of calcium for vegetarians and nonvegetarians. Vegans can consume fortified soy formulas, soy milk, soy cheese, soy yogurt, and various other calcium-fortified foods. Eating these foods in the age-appropriate amounts will ensure adequate calcium intake (Weaver & Plawecki, 1994). For infants, it is important to note that commercial soy milk should not be introduced before the end of the first year because of the low bioavailability of iron and zinc from soy (Sandstrom, Kivisto, & Cederblad, 1987). Fortified infant soy formulas are recommended for infants who are not breastfed (Mangels & Messina, 2001). As long as a child is growing normally, it is suitable to offer him or her full-fat commercial soy milk at age 1 year or older. Not all soy milk is fortified with vitamin D and calcium, so it is important that parents check the label. Other foods such as figs, blackstrap molasses, collard greens, sesame seeds, kale, and broccoli contain calcium as well; however, a large quantity of these foods must be consumed to provide the body with as much calcium as one 8-oz glass of milk (Weaver, Proulx, & Heaney, 1999).


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