The Most Important Vitamins And Minerals For Your Baby
It’s a common misconception that newborns and infants can not develop properly on a vegan diet.
With proper planning your baby can not only survive, but thrive, on a vegan diet, just like adults can. This proper planning includes making sure that your baby gets sufficient amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Since there is so much misinformation out there we decided to put together a list of the most important vitamins and minerals your baby needs.
Vitamin B12 is the only supplement that is recommend for everyone to supplement their diet with, especially pregnant women and infants. B12 is vital for developing nervous systems (brain, spinal cord, and nerves), cardiovascular health and the formation of red blood cells.
Newborn babies, whose mothers were meeting their requirements for B12 during pregnancy, will have B12 stored in the liver which should last for about 6 months. Babies who are breastfed also get vitamin B12 through breast milk. Nursing women should be sure to meet their B12 needs. Babies who are formula fed should be able to meet their requirements through the formula alone.
At 6 months old, you should start considering adding B12 supplementation through drops, sprays or even fortified foods such as nutritional yeast (preferably without folic acid). They only need about 0.5 micrograms per day to meet their requirements, which is easily obtained with nooch (double check that the nutritional yeast you are using is fortified with B12).
Light skinned babies can get enough vitamin D with about 15 minutes of sun exposure per day, while darker skinned babies need around 25 minutes a day (on their face and hands is enough). This would ideally be before 10am or after 3pm when the sun is not as harmful to the skin. Too much sun exposure can cause sunburn or long lasting sun damage as babies’ skin is very delicate.
If you go outside during the day for longer periods of time or during the sun’s peak hours (10am-3pm), you should use correct sun protection. Physical protection is best (i.e hat, long sleeves, pants etc), but if sun exposure is inevitable then you should use a high spf sunscreen.
It is recommended to give your baby 400 IU of vitamin D per day in the case of the sun not being a reliable source.
There is a lot of misinformation regarding calcium and dairy in the mainstream media due to the propaganda of the global dairy industries. When thinking about micronutrients and where we should be getting them, it is important to think about the whole package they are being delivered in. Dairy, though it is high in calcium, is also high in saturated fat, hormones such as estrogen, bovine insulin, and cholesterol. Not to mention the antibiotics and pus.
Calcium coming from kale, broccoli, and mustard greens, for example, is more easily absorbed than from dairy. Plus they have the added benefit of fiber, antioxidants, iron, vitamin K, folate, and are cruelty-free.
During the first year of life, the biggest source of calcium your baby will have is breast milk or formula. When you start giving your baby solid foods, calcium will be something to consider, however, you shouldn’t be too worried about your baby not meeting their needs.
A tablespoon of blackstrap molasses has 170 mg of calcium. 1/4 cup of collard greens has 65 mg, spinach 60 mg. 1 tablespoon of tahini has 65 mg. Other great sources include lentils, broccoli, brown rice, nuts, seeds, and tofu.
During the first six months of your baby’s life, they need about 300 mg per day which will be met by receiving breast milk or formula. From the age of 7 months to a year, the requirement goes up to 450 mg per day. Remember that Vitamin D is vital for the body to absorb calcium.
While there is iron in breast milk, it is quite a small amount. As long as you were not iron deficient during pregnancy though, your baby will have iron stores that will last for the first 6 months of pregnancy. An iron supplement might be necessary in the case that you were iron deficient or if your child has anemia or low iron stores, which is common in prematurely born babies.
At 6 months of age, your baby’s iron requirements go up to about 11 mg of iron a day. You should start giving your baby food rich in iron, such as pureed legumes (lentils, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans), greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce. Check out some of our great articles on knowing when your baby is ready for table food and ideas on what to feed them first.
You can add fruits or vegetables that are high in vitamin C to increase the iron absorption.
It could not be easier to get enough vitamin C than with a vegan diet. Fruits and vegetables are rich in this vitamin. Just one guava has 375 mg of vitamin C, red pepper has 190 mg, a kiwi has 164 mg, an orange has 82 mg, a cup of peas has 60 mg.
Babies need only about 40 mg per day until they are 6 months old, which they will get through breast milk or formula, and will need to get 50 mg per day from 6 months to a year old.
Iodine is required to produce thyroid hormones. In the Western Hemisphere, salt has been iodized in order for people to get enough through the diet. Natural sources of iodine tend to be harder to get in sufficient quantities through the diet, unless you incorporate sea vegetables in your meals.
Babies until the age of 6 months will get enough through breast milk as long as the mother is consuming enough, or through formulas which should have enough as well. From 7 months to a year old, your baby will need about 110 mcg daily. It can be obtained through iodized salt, nori sheets, adding very small amounts of kelp powder to food such as purees or oatmeal, or other sea vegetables.