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Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?
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Author:  asull006 [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

Hello all!

This is my first post here. My daughter (2 years old) and I have been vegan for a few months now and it is definitely a permanent change. The other day my friend (who also recently became vegan) mentioned getting blood tests done to check her levels and such. I thought this might be a good idea to do for my daughter, to make sure she is getting everything she needs. My hesitation is that I'm pretty sure it would traumatize her. She can barely sit still for a quick shot, I can't imagine trying to get blood out of her. I certainly don't want to do something that isn't necessary.

Has anyone here had their kids in for blood tests? Or does anyone think it's completely unnecessary? I'm open to all opinions.

My daughter eats lots of fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains, drinks organic soy milk 3x a day and takes a vegan multivitamin, so I'm pretty confident that she's getting what she needs, but I'm not exactly a nutritionist. Any input would be appreciated! :)

Author:  Tofulish [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

What does your pediatrician say? Are you concerned about anything in particular?

I'd assume that with a vegan multi and a balanced diet, your toddler should be fine.

Author:  Ariann [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

Did she have the regular iron testing at a year (or thereabouts)?

Author:  asull006 [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

My pediatrician recommended that we talk to a nutritionist, but a pediatric vegan nutritionist is in short supply in our neck of the woods. :/

I'm really not concerned about any specifics, she gets plenty of B vitamins from her soy milk and her multi, eats a wide variety of foods and I try to sneak flax and walnuts in things for omega-3s. I guess the paranoia started when some lady in a health food store told me how sick she got from eating a vegan diet...I'm guessing she was doing something wrong lol.

I don't believe she ever had iron testing.

Author:  Ariann [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

It's pretty standard practice these days to do an iron test at 12 months on all kids (and to test lead levels as well, especially if there are any additional risk factors for lead poisoning) since iron-deficiency anemia is so common among kids and because it can also be associated with higher risk of lead poisoning. They'd do it with a heel stick, finger prick, or venipuncture, depending on your state and your doc. Seems prudent to do that as a baseline if you haven't already because it will at least alert you to anemia if she has it, which is really common in kids of all kinds of diets and important (and easy) to treat.

Other than that, a vegan kid taking a multivitamin and eating a varied diet with enough good sources of iron, calcium, and zinc (and things fortified with B-12 and Vitamin D) shouldn't be at higher risk for deficiencies than a non-vegan kid eating a healthy, varied diet. I wouldn't stress over it.

Author:  Tofulish [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

I would read Vegan for Life and get informed if you feel any doubts about feeding your toddler. The AAP has approved a vegan diet and this piece by Jack Norris RD is a good summary of things to watch for: and VRG has this:

And as far as iron, does your multi have iron in it? Ours does. And its not that hard to find vegan sources of iron - even things like farina are highly enriched and lentils etc have naturally occurring iron.

Author:  asull006 [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

I will definitely bring up the iron test at her 2 year well visit.

Her multi does have iron and she loooves lentils.

Bummer, I just had Vegan For Life checked out from the library but had to return it because someone requested it. I've been reading Becoming Vegan though. I feel like it's giving me a pretty good idea, it certainly goes into detail. But I will read Vegan For Life as well as check out those links.

Thank you so much, Tofulish and Ariann!

Author:  Ariann [ Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

Vegan for Life is better than Becoming Vegan - much more updated info. And the section on kids is pretty short - it was a really quick read.

Author:  asull006 [ Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

Excellent! I'm thinking of just getting it on my ereader instead of waiting for the library. Then I can refer to it if needed. Thanks again!

Author:  TheCrabbyCrafter [ Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

I totally second the Jack Norris website! Also, you can learn a lot just from a regular reference book about nutrition -- in my case, The Manual of Nutrition ... 152&sr=1-3 where I learned, among other things, that nuts and dry beans have the same concentration of protein as meat. It was a dry read, but very unbiased.

Author:  LisaPunk [ Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

i dont know anything about supplementing kids but in terms of just being vegan the big one is vitamin B12. you're not going to find that in a vegan diet unless you are seeking out foods fortified with it.

here is a ppk thread on the importance of remembering to take your B12:

the thing is with B12 to the best of my knowledge there are no symptoms of deficiency until you've already done damage to yourself (not 100% sure about that)

the Jack Norris website people are linking to has info on that. and i also recommend Vegan for Life it has a lot of info on how much of each thing you should be eating at different stages of life and examples on where to find those things.

so if you are able to get your kiddo to allow a blood draw definitely check B12!

then not necessarily related to veganism but good to check in general is vit D. depending on where you live in the world you are most likely low on D. you can find foods fortified with vitamin D. i cant remember what foods have vitamin D in them naturally. i just take a supplement and i take more in the winter cause i live in the cold/dark north. i also work a desk job so im not outside much.
the tricky thing about vit D is not all sources are vegan depending on how super ultimate vegan you want to be. vitamin D3 which is the one drs usually tell you to get is typically not vegan (though i feel like a few people have found vegan sources? not 100% sure on that). vitamin D2 i believe is derived from plant sources and would be vegan. the 2 types are absorbed differently by your body and i believe that D3 is considered "better" but i think plenty of people on this board take D2 and have no issues. i found on a vitamin D supplement that comes in a "vcap" (ie the capsule itself is vegan) but it is D3 but im ok with that. you gotta do what you gotta do.

as far as iron goes i get annoyed sometimes because to me the anemia question is almost like the "OMG YOU'RE VEGAN WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?!?!?!" question. people just ASSUME you are anemic because you are vegan/vegetarian.
to me it seems way more individual. i was borderline anemic a million years ago before i went veg. ever since i went veg ive has ZERO issues. i know other people on this board had the same experience.
just a small anecdote. im roughly 6ish months pregnant and vegan. my husband's brother's girlfriend is also pregnant, about 3 weeks behind me, and is omni. guess who is borderline anemic and needs to change their diet? not the vegan.
now granted anemia in pregnancy is SUPER common regardless if you're omni or vegan or whatever but my point is it depends on the individual and it's not like you are automatically anemic once you stop eating meat.

definitely have it checked though! sorry i went off on a tangent. im not saying you shouldnt have your kid's iron checked im just saying if you're feeding her a healthy diet with a big variety (and it sounds like you are) i wouldnt stress about it too much.

on the flip side just because you are vegan does not mean you automatically will have low cholesterol. this probably would not matter for a 2 year old but more for you personally. if you have a family history of high cholesterol or have strugged with cholesterol then you still would want to get that checked. even though a vegan diet doesnt have any dietary cholesterol in it people can still struggle with cholesterol levels when vegan.

geesh i feel like i wrote a book. i hope it's helpful and i hope it's accurate. other folks, please point out if im wrong on anything :-)

Author:  TheCrabbyCrafter [ Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

Well said, LP!

Your comments about cholesterol are really interesting. I struggled with high cholesterol -- everyone on my dad's side of the family has it -- and mine only went down to a normal level after I went vegan. I'm the only one in my family who has lowered their cholesterol to a safe level without using drugs (and the only vegan in my family). BUT, mine is still 150-167 (down from it's max, which was either 240 or 260, I can't remember), so I can imagine how someone on a normal diet (meaning not one of those crazy super high cholesterol diets I've seen where people are eating extreme amounts of unhealthy cholesterol-laden food), whose levels were, say, 340, might still struggle after going vegan. I never thought about that before.

i cant remember what foods have vitamin D in them naturally.

Other than fortified foods (this includes milk, which I think is fortified by law in the US), certain fish, egg yolks, and certain mushrooms that have been dried in the sun (I've never seen these mythical mushrooms, just heard about them). But basically, in order to meet your vitamin D needs from food alone (assuming 200IU is the standard), you'd need to eat a ton of eggs (8, I think) or about 3 oz of fish each day (and I read that, given the kind of fish involved, it's bad for the environment and would be unsustainable on a large scale or something) -- not that it matters because we're vegan, but just another thing I've thought about and mentioned when people told us our vegan diets were failing us because of the lack of vitamin D (strange, they NEVER mentioned B12, which is really the only legit argument they can make, IMO).

Author:  refinnej [ Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

Do you have any concerns about her health/wellbeing in general? As mentioned, if she's eating a varied diet (including a B12 supplement too), then it's unlikely that she suffering a clinical deficiency.

Author:  asull006 [ Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Blood Work for Vegan Toddlers?

Thank you so much, everyone! Well, her soy milk has b12, calcium and vitamin d, among with other things. Her multi has pretty much what most multis have. She eats lots of foods with zinc, as she loves beans (I cook them from dry), seeds and nuts. I think she's good, I guess it's just my parenthood paranoia lol. The last thing I would want is to make my baby sick.

That's very interesting about cholesterol, LisaPunk. I have had elevated cholesterol once in my life, I should probably get it checked again to make sure.

Again, thanks so much everyone! I just got Vegan For Life and I'm going to read the chapter on kids, then go back and read the whole thing.

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