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PARENT’S QUESTION: MY CHILD WANTS TO BE VEGETARIAN….

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“Doctor, My child has be­come more conscious that animals must be killed in order to obtain meat, and that knowledge has prompt her to choose a vegetarian diet. What should I do?”

Congratulations. You have a consciences child. Celebrate it.

There are various degrees of vegetarianism, and the strict­ness of the diet will determine whether your youngster is vulnerable to nutritional shortcomings. Vegetarian di­ets tend to be high in fiber and polyunsaturated fat, and low in cholesterol and calories.

Nutritionally speaking:

· Vegetarians sometimes consume insufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D if they remove milk products from their diet.

· Also, because of the lack of meat products, vegetarians sometimes have an inadequate iron intake. They may also consume insufficient amounts of vita­min B-12, zinc, and other minerals.

· Vegetarians may also lack adequate protein sources.

What should you do?

These are only a few excellent foods that can augment the protein, calcium and iron content in vegetarian and vegan diets. Of course, many of these can also be complemented with vitamins and supplements. It is easy to be healthy with a well-rounded vegan or vegetarian diet.

Vegetarian Protein Sources: Nuts, soy products (tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, edamame), seeds and sprouts, grains (quinoa, amaranth), beans and legumes. For vegetarians, dairy and eggs prove to be excellent sources of protein as well.

Vegetarian Iron Sources: Bean and legumes such as lima beans, soybeans and kidney beans, bread, broccoli, dates, molasses, peas, rice, pasta, spinach, vitamin supplements, nuts and seeds such as almonds and Brazil nuts, dried fruit like prunes and raisins, kale, asparagus.

Vegetarian Calcium Sources: Many spices are surprisingly high in calcium, such as celery seed, dill, poppy, fennel, sesame, cumin, coriander, caraway, anise, mustard, etc. Fresh basil has plenty of calcium. Soybeans and other beans, almonds and peanuts, tofu, arugula, collards and other greens, seaweed, figs, sun-dried tomatoes, peanut butter. For non-vegans, cheese, yogurt, milk and other dairy products can be excellent sources of calcium.

· As a general guideline, her protein intake should come from more than one source, combining cereal products (wheat, rice) with legumes (dry beans, soybeans, peas), for example; when eaten together, they provide a higher quality mixture of amino acids than if either is consumed alone.

· To ensure adequate levels of vitamin B-12, you might serve your child commercially prepared foods fortified with this vitamin.

· While calcium is present in some vegetables, your child may still need a calcium supplement if he does not consume milk and other dairy prod­ucts.

· Alternative sources of vitamin D might also be advisable if there is no milk in the diet.

· Your pediatrician may recommend iron supplements, too, al­though your child can improve his absorption of the iron in vegetables by drinking citrus juice at mealtime.

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Author: txnaturalpediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

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