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Are Vitamins Necessary for Vegetarian Kids?

Are Vitamins Necessary for Vegetarian Kids?

Q: Is a multi-vitamin necessary for vegetarian toddlers / kids?

A: In general, I am not a big advocate of vitamin supplementation. There’s very little scientific evidence that consuming an individual micronutrient actually benefits the health. Instead, I recommend that you get your nutrients from eating a well-rounded diet.

For vegetarian children, the most likely deficiencies would be Vitamin B12 and Iron.

There are two types of iron: heme, which is the type found in meat; and non-heme, which is the type found in non-meat items such as eggs, cereals, vegetables, peas, beans and lentils. Non-heme iron is not as well absorbed by the body as heme iron, but the absorption can be enhanced by vitamin C, which is a good reason for giving vegetables and fruit at the same time.  Most vegetarians get enough Vit C in their diet.

Vegetarians normally get enough B12 from dairy produce. If you or your children practice a vegan diet try to eat foods enriched with B12 (such as breakfast cereals) or regularly include fortified yeast extract in the diet. Vegans may need to take a Vit B12 supplement.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

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Dr. Brent

As an undergraduate, Dr. Brent Ridge majored in public health and environmental science, studying the way the state of the natural environment impacts our health choices. As a physician, he specializes in the field of aging. Send your health questions to Dr. Brent at


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12:30PM PST on Feb 18, 2013


3:13PM PDT on May 13, 2012

Thanks for the info.

8:53AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

kids dont have choices...they have to eat what their parents gives hopefully extra vit.will be hopes!!!

7:01AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

@Jack S.

Supplements and other vitamins contain trace amounts of many toxins, are acid forming in the body (screws up your pH) and very difficult to absorb.

Why would you not just feed your child healthy absorbable nourishment, instead of feeding him crap, then supplementing with more crap?

You see the problem is not that a vegetarian or vegan diet is unhealthy. The problem is that some people refuse to eat whole grains, leafy greens, raw nuts, sprouted legumes etc. When they go vegan, they are still eating white bread, commercial peanut butter, processed soy products with sugar, etc. Of course they are malnourished. So is any meat eater who primarily consumes those things as well.

By the way plants contain more of the nourishment we need then meat and dairy does. And a lot of plant sources come pre loaded with amino acids, unlike meat which our body first has to break down to get at the amino acids, adding an extra energy draining, nourishment burning step.

6:26AM PDT on Jul 19, 2011

A valuable piece of great info. Thanks for sharing.

8:34PM PST on Feb 9, 2011

Raising a vegetarian kid and especially a vegan kid without supplements is a great way to raise a kid to have nutrient deficiencies.

4:21PM PST on Nov 18, 2010


10:58AM PST on Nov 17, 2010

go vegan! :)

4:19AM PST on Nov 16, 2010

not needed

3:50PM PST on Nov 15, 2010


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