Monday 8 June 2020

Vegan Vitamins for Toddlers: What We Supplement & Why

Something I'm asked often about raising Eden on a plant based diet is whether we have to supplement her diet - the short answer is yes, we do! But in fact, I'd give her vitamins regardless of veganism.

Vitamin supplements are really widely debated, and I've heard a fair amount of arguments on both sides. I vaguely remember we would usually take vitamins as children (raised on a balanced omnivorous diet) because my mum considered them to be a good top up, and this makes sense to me considering that all children have phases of picky eating.

Additionally, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are in short supply in our modern day diets. B12 comes from microorganisms and due to our modern sanitary food preparation and depleted nutrients in soil, B12 is hard to come by. This vitamin can be found in animal products due to soil or supplements in their diet but there aren't enough useful sources of B12 in a vegan diet so it's important for any vegan to supplement this. B12 is crucial for brain and nervous function, energy and the production of DNA and red blood cells, while Vitamin D is a mood booster that is essential for energy, immunity, and bone building. We can produce enough Vitamin D from sunlight but it's only possible to get enough of it during the summer months and sunblock can inhibit absorption. Vitamin D can be found in foods (mushrooms in particular, leaving them in sunlight prior to cooking is a good trick to absorb lots of extra vitamin D) but a supplement is still something I'd recommend. As Vitamin D is a mood booster that functions as a hormone once built to a certain level in the body, I've been sure to take it as a supplement for years now and have found for me this makes a big difference to combat low mood.

I do find it really interesting that Eden seems to pick her foods according to what she's going through and eats intuitively (for example she goes straight for protein during a growth spurt!) Supplements aside, most plant milks are fortified with vitamins for an extra boost, and a whole foods plant based diet will offer her all of the building blocks, healthy proteins and fats she needs to grow and develop into a strong and healthy child. She also still breastfeeds and will still get nutrients this way too, but just to be sure I have offered her liquid vitamin supplements since she started solid food - although she has a varied diet and is a good eater I think the aforementioned vitamins are so important and hard to come by that we all need to really consider whether we get enough of them in our diet, and if not to look into a supplement.

Does your toddler have vitamin supplements? I would love to hear some recommendations for good vegan vitamin companies!

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