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Six Essential Nutrients for Vegetarian Children (page 2)

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Updated on Apr 8, 2013

Calcium

For strong bones, look no further than calcium. If your child is going octo-lavo (eggs-and-dairy friendly, not meat friendly), he can munch grilled cheese sandwiches to his heart’s content. If even dairy’s out of the question, good kid-friendly sources of calcium are black beans, some types of tofu, almonds and … molasses! Vegan cookies made with this sugar product are so sweet, both for his taste buds and his bones. Look for calcium-fortified orange juice in the supermarket aisles, and stock up on soy, rice or almond milk, which all come in delicious flavors like vanilla and chocolate.

Vitamin D

This one is no sweat if your child loves to soak up the sun. (Okay, maybe a little sweat.) Calcium needs vitamin D to help it absorb into the body, and direct sun exposure is the easiest way to get it—and also gives you an excuse to play outside. If your child isn’t a fan of sunbathing, look out for fortified foods—lots of calcium-fortified foods will also add vitamin D for good measure. Eggs are loaded with the stuff as well, so vegetarians should have zero problems meeting their needs.

Zinc

Your child’s got to be able to sprint with the best of them, so keep his immune system up and running with plenty of zinc. Whole grain breads, nuts, black beans and fortified cereals will keep his entire system kicking.

Providing your child with a balanced and varied diet is important no matter what you eat, but it becomes even more important when you limit the food options. When you pay attention to the essential nutrients, bringing your child up vegetarian or vegan can be a breeze, as many of the foods are packed with multiple nutrients. With so many food choices out there, from veggie burgers to vegan mac and cheese and soy milk-soaked cereal, your child can be healthy, happy and look no different than his meat-loving friends.

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