Vegetarian diets and children

Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 May;59(5 Suppl):1176S-1181S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/59.5.1176S.


The diets and growth of children reared on vegetarian diets are reviewed. Excessive bulk combined with low energy density can be a problem for children aged < or = 5 y and can lead to imparied growth. Diets that have a high content of phytate and other modifiers of mineral absorption are associated with an increased prevalence of rickets and iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a real hazard in unsupplemented or unfortified vegan and vegetarian diets. It is suggested that vegans and vegetarians should use oils with a low ratio of linoleic to linolenic acid in view of the recently recognized role of docosahexaenoic acid in visual functioning. If known pitfalls are avoided, the growth and development of children reared on both vegan and vegetarian diets appears normal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hypochromic / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / etiology
  • Birth Weight
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Diet, Vegetarian / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Growth
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Rickets / epidemiology
  • Rickets / etiology
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / etiology