Supplements for vegan kids. Which ones should you give a plant-based child? While it’s important to take into account individual factors when it comes to your babe, here is a general overview of our recommendations for supplementation.
We recently created the Plant Based Juniors Supplement Guide, which you can grab here.
Why? Well, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is 1) if predominantly plant-based kids need supplements and 2) if so, which ones they should be taking, and how much.
We also recognize that there are countless supplement brands to choose from, which is why we included some of our personal favorites in the guide.
To give you a brief overview around what you’ll find in the supplement guide, this post covers the top supplements we generally recommend for plant-based children.
Iron is the most common nutrient deficiency around the world, among children and adults – regardless of what diet you follow.
Why does iron matter? Iron is involved in many physiological processes throughout life.
For kids especially, not getting enough iron can result in iron deficiency anemia – a condition in which there aren’t enough red blood cells to carry oxygen, often resulting in symptoms like extreme fatigue – and even delayed growth and development.
Although there are some plant foods that are rich in iron (e.g., beans, soy foods, quinoa) and ways to boost iron absorption, sometimes an iron-containing supplement is a good idea.
Often called “the sunshine vitamin” – since your body produces it through skin exposure to direct sunlight – vitamin D is still a common deficiency.
As the primary sources of vitamin D in the diet tend to be animal-based foods like fish and fortified dairy products, plant-based kids may not be getting enough on their plate.
Furthermore, it’s not advised for infants and young children to constantly be exposed to direct sunlight.
Hence, a vitamin D supplement is often a good idea. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin D supplementation for all babies who are exclusively or partially breastfed.
Iodine is essential for metabolic processes and growth. While it’s found in small amounts in some plant foods, such as seaweed, the amounts are inconsistent and often unreliable on a plant-based diet.
Iodized salt is of course one source of this important nutrient, but we don’t recommended added salt to your baby’s foods due to the immaturity of their kidneys.
Plus, many salts on the market today do not have iodine added to them, such as specialty sea salts and Himalayan varieties.
An iodine-containing supplement may be a good idea after your baby turns 12 months old, or after he or she weans from breast milk or formula (which will offer all of their iodine requirements).
Vitamin B12 is probably the most talked about nutrient when it comes to vegan diets, as the main food sources of it are primarily animal products.
It’s worth noting that many plant-based milk alternatives are fortified with vitamin B12 (but be sure to check the label) and can be beneficial to incorporate into your family’s routine.
However, vitamin B12 is not found reliably in plant-based sources and also has low absorption rates, making it important for plant-based kids and adults to receive it elsewhere.
These supplements are typically easy to find and fairly inexpensive.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
DHA and EPA are long-chain essential fatty acids that are only found in foods like fish, eggs, and some fortified milk.
ALA is another omega 3 fatty acid which we can find in some plant-based foods and convert to DHA and EPA. That being said, the conversion rate is low.
Because omega 3 fats are critical for growth and brain development, we think that supplements for plant-based kids are a good idea.
The good news is that if you don’t want to give your child a seafood or fish-based omega 3 supplement, there are algae-based ones available today as well.
Supplements for vegan kids are an important consideration to make sure that your family is meeting their nutritional needs.
Predominantly plant-based children can certainly reap the rewards of a healthy and ethical diet, and proper supplementation where it’s needed is an important piece of that.
For more detailed information around supplements for vegan kids, including some of our personal brand recommendations, subscribe to grab your copy of the Plant Based Juniors Supplement Guide.
Chime in: What other questions do you have about supplements for plant-based children, or for adults?
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jenny Volpe says
Hi I will like a guidance on what vitamin b12, vit D and Iodine and algae oil for my son he is 22 months
We have a free supplement guide that goes over this, and our favorite picks.
Hello! Thank you again for all the great information you provide! We really appreciate all of the advice and suggestions. We have been reviewing the Supplement Guide, which has been very helpful. We wanted to know, do you, personally, give your children the B12 Spray Kinder (or Energy Balance Oral B12)? We have been looking all over for B12 supplements, and as you mentioned, it is the only one for children that is dose appropriate. Thank you again for being such an amazing resource!
Whitney gives Caleb B12 drops that she finds at Sprouts (but they aren’t available online) and Alex gives B12 to Vander in the form of a multivitamin.
I had a question about the omega 3 supplements. Mary Ruth’s has a gummy supplement. Is this a good choice for Omega? My kids gag at anything fishy tasting and I’m struggling to find a good source for them.
Hi Maria, these are mostly ALA based, not DHA and EPA based which is what we’d recommend for supplementing kids. For ALA fatty acids, we’d recommend adding in flax seeds/hemp seeds/chia seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, etc.
Mary Hartley says
Hello, I have searched so much for a b12 supplement with methylcobalamin and cannot find one suitable for a one year old; any recommendations? I prefer to have the natural form versus cyanocobalamin.
Hi Mary, you likely aren’t going to be able to find a liquid supplement in a small dose form– we are working with a manufacture who has heard us talk about the need for this, but it’s not on the market yet. We give our kids one that we find at Whole Foods with 1 drop of 40mcg and also LiveWise which has 1 drop of 200mcg– both of those are methylcobalamin. We prefer a small dose but also don’t have any research to show that higher doses are harmful and we think the conservative approach is to give more than less, especially with methylcobalmin as there isn’t as much data on absorption and amounts. That’s also to say that you won’t absorb all of the B12 in a single dose, estimates vary based on dosage but it’s about 1-2% after the first mcg which is why levels are so high.
I’d be lost without all your information. I have your Plant-Based Juniors book and have learned so so much for my little vegan babe – thank you!!
Can you recommend some supplements please? My boy is 19 months. What do you give your kids?