By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
There are very few studies of vegan children, so it was
exciting to see that German researchers had recently published results from the
VegChi Youth Study. This study, from three study centers in Germany, provides
an interesting look at vegan children’s growth and diet. The study subjects
were all German children and adolescents, 6-18 years old. There were 115 vegans,
149 vegetarians, and 137 nonvegetarians. The children and teens seemed to be
growing normally and there was no significant difference in height, weight, or
BMI among the groups.
The vegans seemed
to be aware of the need to have reliable sources of vitamin B12. Close to 90%
of them used a vitamin B12 supplement. This was reflected in lab results. Approximately
8% of the vegans were categorized as likely deficient in vitamin B12 compared
to 13% of vegetarians and 4% of nonvegetarians.
All three groups of
children had adequate median protein intakes. In contrast, all groups had
median calcium intakes below German recommendations with the vegan group having
the lowest intake. The median calcium intake of the vegan children was less
than half of what is recommended.
On average, the
vegan children had the lowest blood cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol
concentrations. They also had the highest intakes of iron, zinc, vitamin C, and
folate and the lowest intake of added sugars. These results suggest that a
vegan diet can meet the nutritional needs of children and teens.
Fischer M, Weder S, et al. Nutrient intake and status of German children and
adolescents consuming vegetarian, vegan or omnivore diets: Results of the VeChi
Youth Study. Nutrients. 2021;13(5):1707.
For more about vegan children and teens, see: https://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm
For more information about calcium in a vegan diet, see: https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.php