Nutrition Q&A: Healthy vegetarian diet for kids

Nutrition and Dietetics expert, Parvathy Radhakrishnan answers readers’ questions on nutrition. Get your doubts cleared and see them featured on our FAQ page every Wednesday.
This week’s answers:

1. Dear Maam, i give my 12 yrd old kid a lot of cheese and milk. he is not fat and plays a lot. is it ok to include a lot of diary foods at this age?
Too much of anything is not healthy. About 2 ounce of cheese and 3 glasses of milk/yoghurt is required daily at this age. Vary the cheeses from low fat to full fat. Avoid cream cheese and cheddar types on on a daily basis.

2. Hi how can i know my children (6 & 8 yrs)are getting adequate nutrition from veg meals?
If you are giving them sufficient citrus fruit/juice, fortified cereals and various grains, green/yellow vegetables, dal and milk and egg you need not worry. Also combine pulses and grains in the meal so they complement each other and provide all the essential amino acids.
The only deficiency you can expect is iron and Vit B12. A simple blood test will determine this. It is also advisable to add a good supplement like Ensure, Protinex or Complan to the milk. Iron supplements are needed only if advised by the physician after a blood test is done.
Physical examination of eyes, hair, nails and height/weight are also indicators of determining good health.

3. what is the best way to get trace minerals in our body through diet?
There are about 72 trace elements needed by the human body. Of these the most important are are chromium, cobalt, boron, zinc, iodine, fluoride, molybdenum, copper, silicon, selenium. They are found in a variety of foods. So the best way to get all of these is if you are eating a varied and wholesome diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, milk, fish, whole grains, pulses on a daily basis.

4. hi parvathy, my cholesterol is borderline – 200. will normal food intake without sweets/ less oil increase the level if i discontinue my medication
You may discontinue any medication only if your physician has said so. Factors within your control to normalise high cholesterol are eating low fat, high fiber diet, maintaining normal weight and regular physical activity and non smoking. But if your hypercholesterolemia is due to genetic factors and if there are other risk factors like diabetes or high blood pressure, heredity, then you need to continue medication or the level may increase on stopping medications.

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