We recently changed to a vegan diet. We have a daughter who is 8 years old who had been feeling dizzy as well as headaches. So we decided to take her to the doctor where they did blood and urine analysis. The diagnosis was anemia. The doctor told us that animal products are necessary because they have aminoacids and other nutrients that non-animal sources do not have. The doctor gave us vitamins and we are still following our vegan diet. We have also added extra portions of iron-rich foods (beans, lentils, soy, and nuts) for my daughter. I would like to know what is your opinion?
pachitorex666 / Originally posted on Constructing a cognitive portfolio
Sounds like your doctor needs a refresher in basic nutrition. You may want to share the official American Dietetic Association position statement, stating that vegetarian and vegan diets are suitable for all ages (i.e. animal products are unnecessary). In fact the most esteemed pediatrician of all time, Dr. Benjamin Spock, recommended in his final edition of Baby and Child Care that children be raised without exposure to meat and dairy. I talk about Dr. Spock in my video Doctors’ Nutritional Ignorance.
In terms of anemia, the iron status of vegetarian children is comparable to that of omnivore children. I am concerned that your physician may have jumped on the dietary explanation out of ignorance without considering other causes. There are multiple reasons for anemia. Is she not making enough blood? Is she losing blood? (At age 8 I wouldn’t expect her to be.) Are her blood cells not living long enough? Are her kidneys not making enough blood-boosting hormone? Your physician can test for all these possibilities. I would be happy to review her lab results and offer a second opinion (can email them directly to me at email@example.com if you don’t want them public).
Image credit: Thirteen Of Clubs / Flickr