School going children in the age group of 3-15 years are in rapid body growth phase. Comprehensive nutrition, comprising of carbs, fats and protein along with essential minerals and vitamins is a must to include in their diets.
However, most children are fussy eaters during this age. They eat only certain foods, for e.g, Spinach a.k.a Palak is a royally ignored food by kids, but it is such a nutrient-dense food. It is packed with over 15 vitamins and minerals- vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, copper, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, fibre, phosphorus, choline and antioxidants. Don’t be overwhelmed, this is just to give you an idea of how nutritious it is!
Kids being fussy eaters miss out on so many essential nutrients which their body needs. In fact, they need it more now than later in life. That brings us to the question – Should dietary supplements be given to kids? Can Kids consume whey protein? The real and honest answer to this is, it depends!
- What is whey?
- Whey is considered to be a complete protein because it contains 9 essential amino acids. It has low lactose content which makes it easily digestible. Leucine present in whey helps with building muscles too.
- Whey protein is made from cow milk yogurt. Churning the yogurt releases butter/cream and leaves behind a yellowish water. This water is whey. Kids can safely consume this fresh at home.
- Heating thebutter made from yogurt gives traditionally made ghee. This ghee is also called cultured butter because it has live cultures ( probiotic bacterias) which make it medicinal in nature and great for digestion.
- How much protein do my kids need?
- The suggested intake of protein is decided at 0.8 gm per kg of body weight. For e.g , if your kid is 12-13 kgs, then the amount of daily protein he/she would need will be 10 gm roughly. Natural protein sources like handful of nuts and seeds can easily meet this protein requirements. For athletes or kids in active sports, few studies state that it is best to eat protein within 30 minutes of exercise. This is the period when most of muscle formation or muscle repair happens, and timely protein consumption enables that.
Pro-tip : You can make protein-packed, seeds infused nutritional paratha, which will not only give you 10 gms of protein, but also make it supremely easy to feed your child. Nut cookies are also great protein snack for kids.
- When can kids have whey protein powder supplement?
- If a child is not meeting the daily protein required for reasons such as (1) she/he is a fussy eater (2) she/he is on a restricted diet due to medical history or lifestyle choice of being vegan (3) lack of availability of protein rich food (4) she/he is an extreme sports person or into tough physical routine.
- The best source, nevertheless, will always be the freshly prepared or procured whey made from cow’s milk yogurt.
- When can whey protein powder be unsuitable for my kids?
- If the child eats a balanced diet, giving additional dosages of protein supplements can be harmful. High protein levels in body can create kidney stones and also strain child’s liver (with toxic nitrogen build up).
- What is the best solution?
- Protein consumption directly through food or food based protein supplement should be preferred for kids. The chances of over consuming protein through food are very slim. Whereas, over-consumption of protein through whey protein supplement is terribly easy.
- Feeding nutrient-dense whey drink made of yogurt (blended with nuts and fruits) makes it one of the best food for children’s growth. Not only is it tasty but also makes it easy for the mother to feed healthy snack to the child.