How can my child get enough nutrients on a vegetarian diet?

Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Getting in a variety of foods will help ensure that anyone, but certainly a vegetarian, is getting the nutrients they need. That said, I often recommend looking at supplementation to "supplement" a healthy diet so that if a week's eating ends up less than perfect the body still has what it needs. Some nutrients we pay extra attention to in vegetarians are: vitamin D (other than mushrooms, nature doesn't provide many sources of absorbable D; some products are fortified but often intake levels of a food or beverage would have to be high making the potential for a deficiency more likely); vitamin b12 -- if your child doesn't eat meat and/or any animal products, supplementation is highly recommended; the right balance of calcium and magnesium is important: emphasizing greens, adding sesame seeds to the diet, adding beans and eating whole grains (vs flour products) helps accomplish this; iron is often raised as a concern and growing bodies do need iron to support optimal growth and energy -- sources such as greens, lentils (you can make veggie burgers from lentils and top them with salsa), and dried fruit supply iron, but do check levels every 6 months as iron supplementation may be required if levels fall low (especially as a young girl begins her menstrual cycle).

Continue Learning about Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diets

When you look at vegetarian diets, it's hard to do so without understanding that many of the practitioners believe that it is not only healthful, but more to practice vegetarianism. This is true even if the diet may include occasi...

onal meats or fish as in the Macrobiotic diet with it's Zen beliefs, or the Indian Ayurvedic diet, which finds milk and dairy central to good health along with plants. Anyone considering a vegetarian diet should learn about the food values of different vegetables, and consider getting advice on whether or not to supplement the diet with vitamins and minerals, particularly if you have special nutritional needs like growing children or pregnant or lactating women.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.