By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
A reader had a question about B12 for their one-year-old. They supplemented B12
during pregnancy, breastfed exclusively for 6 months, and after that used a
soy-based formula. At 6 months they started introducing solid foods, and
currently use about 12-24 ounces of formula, with limited breastfeeding.
The RDA for vitamin B12 is 0.5 micrograms per
day from age 6-12 months and 0.9 micrograms from 1-3 years. Formula
provides some vitamin B12. The label should tell you how much is in the
formula. Since the child is consuming limited breastmilk, we can’t
count on that to provide much vitamin B12. As the child moves away from
formula, I’d suggest adding in a vitamin B12-fortified soymilk. You can see how
much vitamin B12 is in 8 ounces of a number of brands of soymilk on our website
Read labels to confirm the amount in the brand you buy.
Most fortified soymilks have at least 0.9 micrograms in 8
ounces so as little as 1 cup a day should meet the one year old’s needs for
vitamin B12. You can also add some nutritional yeast fortified with
vitamin B12 (Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula is one brand) to foods to
provide additional vitamin B12.
Most children’s multivitamins supply vitamin B12 and are a
simple way to meet vitamin B12 needs. Look for a multivitamin that supplies at
least the RDA for vitamin B12.
There’s no real advantage to taking a large dose of vitamin
B12. You may need to smash the vitamin and mix it with food or look for a
liquid multivitamin to avoid choking issues.
Here are some multivitamins that appear to not contain
animal products and that provide vitamin B12:
Freeda Chewable Vitalets – 1 tablet has 3 mcg of vitamin B12
Yummy Bears – 3 bears have 3 micrograms of vitamin B12
VegLife Vegan Kids – 1 chewable – 5 micrograms of vitamin
Country Life Baby Care – 1 tsp – 2 mcg of vitamin B12
Rainbow Light Kids – 1 tablet – 1 mcg of vitamin B12
There is some evidence that it’s better to get vitamin B12 a
couple of times a day so you may want to break the multivitamin in half and
give half in the morning and half later in the day (or have fortified soymilk a
couple of times a day).
From age 1-3 years the RDA for calcium is 700 milligrams per day. Most calcium-fortified soymilks provide at least 250 milligrams of calcium in a cup. Other good sources of calcium are listed on our website: https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.php
To share experiences and questions with other parents, you may want to join our Vegan Parents Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/VRGparentsandkids/
This information may also be helpful: https://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.php
The contents of this posting, our website, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.
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