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For growing kids, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrition and energy. Juices of these fruits and vegetables naturally contain their vitamins and minerals. But are fruit juices really a healthy beverage?
Children can easily drink a lot of juices because they taste good. However, excess of everything is bad. Juices while being healthy and filling, may cause many problems like poor nutrition, obesity, and tooth decay. So, moderation is the key, where drinking moderate amounts of 100 percent fruit juice would not affect a child’s weight. However, it is advised to stear clear of the packaged juices that contain calories in the form of added sugar, which can lead to many health problems. It is best to give your children freshly prepared juices than packed ones available in the market.
Age-Wise Guidelines On The Right Amount of Juices For Kids
The American Academy of Paediatrics has suggested some guidelines defining the amount of juice that should be consumed by a child at different ages.
Birth to 6 Months
They should not be given fruit juices, unless it is used to relieve them from constipation problems. However, it is best to consult your pediatrician before incorporating juices in your baby’s diet.
6 to 12 months
If given juices, they should be restricted to 4 to 6 ounces that is 120 ml to 180 ml max. Prefer using a cup and not a bottle to avoid tooth decay.
1 to 6 years
Up to 6 ounces or 200 ml of juice a day can be given to a child at this age.
7 years and older
Up to 12 ounces or 350 – 400 ml of juice per day is permissible.
Types of Juices for Kids
Drinking 100 percent fruit juices has proven to be good for toddlers as they contain a high level of essential nutrients like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, vitamins A and C. However, other types of juices like juice drinks, juice cocktails and juices prepared from powdered mixes contain huge amount of sugar and calories, and do not provide essential nutrients except vitamin C that is added during preparation. Therefore, it is best to look at the ingredients contained in the juices before giving them to children.
Juice Limitations for Kids
While juices are refreshing, thirst-quenching and tasty, they have a high caloric level and sugar content. Consuming large amounts in a day can increase the child’s risk of obesity, tooth decay and cavities.
Considerations for Giving Juices to Kids
Ideally, consuming a fruit is considered better than consuming juices. This is because juices lack fiber that is naturally present in the fruit. Also, the packaged drinks contain added sugar and preservatives that may prove to be harmful for the toddlers. Kids who have been consuming 100 percent juice, as per the daily recommended intake by American Academy of Paediatrics, are at a lower risk of becoming overweight, or suffer from tooth decay and other related problems. While juices are sources of essential nutrients for children, it is best to give them 100 percent home-made juices. Avoid giving them excess of juices and follow the daily intake guidelines to protect your child from health problems that may follow.