B12 for Children
Q My daughter is 7 months old and has started solids and I intend on raising her vegan (like I am). My doctor told me to give her a multivitamin mostly because of potential B12 deficiency. Is that necessary (I breastfeed her and I take extra B12)? If so, what’s the best way to give her B12 at this age?
A For breastfeeding vegan women, it is essential to supplement B12, as low levels in the mother’s diet can lead to low levels in the milk. With solid foods, start to gradually introduce vegan foods that are fortified with B12 to your daughter. Fortified breakfast cereals, plant-based milks and texturized soy protein are all some examples. You can also try cooking with Red Star Nutritional Yeast (it gives a kid-friendly “cheese” flavor to foods) which is fortified with B12 as well. Speak with your daughter’s pediatrician about monitoring her B12 levels, as well as other nutrients of concern for vegans (vitamin D, zinc, and calcium). If a supplement is needed, there are flavored sublingual drops that provide the B12.
Nora Allen, is a senior nutrition major and gender studies minor at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA. She has worked clinically in a geriatric setting for two years, and has worked in hospital food service for the past two years. Nora has been a vegan for six years, and was the 2007 recipient of the Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship. She currently runs cross country at Cedar Crest College, and enjoys promoting a healthy, active lifestyle along with animal rights.
Editors note: Nora Allen answered this question while serving as an intern under Vegan Dietitian Jill Nussinow.