Protein is especially crucial during the toddler years since they are a time of fast growth and development. It’s critical to understand the significance of whey proteins in your child’s growth, in addition to supporting appropriate eating habits.
A parent or caregiver could consider adding protein powder to their child’s diet. However, most youngsters get enough protein from a well-balanced diet.
This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of protein powder for children. It also considers how much protein children and teens require daily and some alternative protein sources. Let’s take a look at what whey protein is and how it may help your child’s growth and development.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is present in many protein supplements and infant formulae. According to Live Science, it is one of two proteins found in cow’s milk, the other being casein.
Many food processors choose whey for its texture; as a result, you could find it in ice cream as a means to utilize less fat while preserving the smoothness we all know and love, according to Live Science.
Whey is widely used as a supplement or powder and may be found in many dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt. According to Operation Supplement Safety, whey is what is left over after milk is converted into cheese (OSS).
It functions as a building block in the body, just like all other proteins. Whey is frequently considered as a strategy to boost muscular building in adults, but it’s also utilized to increase a child’s protein consumption. Picky eating or high levels of exercise can cause a lack of protein in children, who require more of this essential nutrient to develop and operate effectively.
Do Kids Need Whey Protein?
Because it includes 9 necessary amino acids and has a low lactose level, whey is considered a complete protein. Whey proteins are easily absorbed as a result of this. Leucine, an essential amino acid for muscle growth, is also found in whey protein.
Is Whey Protein Safe For Your Child?
The use of whey protein is fully risk-free. Cow’s milk is used to make it. Casein (a form of protein that takes a long time to digest) and whey (a form of protein that is quickly digested) make up 80% of cow’s milk and 20% of whey. As a result, whey should be included in a nutritious milk supplement powder because of its positive features, such as ease of digestion and safety.
Whey is also a good source of protein for picky eaters who don’t consume specific foods and thus don’t get enough protein. Protein powder appears to be advantageous to youngsters; however, there is currently no data to support this claim. Many of the research on this issue are tiny, with few participants, according to a 2015 review.
Researchers looked at the available information on the effects of protein supplements in children with chronic conditions such cystic fibrosis and pediatric cancer in the review. Due to a lack of appetite or a difficulty to absorb nutrients, these frequently prevent youngsters from acquiring appropriate nourishment.
The researchers discovered that ingesting protein powder did not result in substantial weight, height, or nutritional benefits. It’s worth noting, though, that these findings might not apply to healthy kids.
In general, protein shortage is uncommon in the United States, and healthy children seldom require additional protein. Protein powders should be used with caution, according to the review’s authors, until further high-quality research has been done on their effects.
How Much Protein Do Kids Need?
So, how much protein should your child consume on a daily basis? It is contingent on their age. Here are the daily protein consumption recommendations based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Another way to think about it is that protein should account for 10 to 30% of your child’s calories. This is met by two servings of dairy and one to two servings of other lean protein (remembering that serving sizes are smaller for children than adults).
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), if your child drinks the required amount of cow’s milk every day, he or she is getting all or almost all of the protein they require. This is due to the fact that each ounce of cow’s milk contains one gram of protein.
The quantity of protein a kid or adolescent needs each day is determined by age, degree of activity, and gender.
Dietary Guidelines for 2015–2020
The Department of Agriculture’s recommends that newborns, adolescents, and teenagers consume the following quantities of protein per day:
|Age : Protein Requirements Per Day|
|1–3 years : 13 grams (g)|
|4–8 years : 19 g|
|9–13 years : 34 g|
|14–18 years (female) : 46 g|
|14–18 years (male) : 52 g|
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, active youngsters may require more calories, hence somewhat more protein. Check the labels on groceries to see how much protein each serving includes to see how much protein a youngster is presently eating.
What To Look For In A Protein Powder For Kids?
Protein should be obtained from entire meals, such as fish and eggs, as well as plant sources, such as beans, wherever available. If a youngster isn’t getting enough protein this way, talk to a dietitian or doctor about protein supplements.
Protein powders are typically made up of plant or dairy sources of protein. Here are several examples:
- Whey protein (from milk)
- Pea protein (from peas)
- Brown rice protein
Protein powders are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can contain various other components. These might be healthy, like vitamins and minerals, or unhealthy, like sugar. If a doctor says a protein powder is important, seek for one with an adequate amount of protein, taking into account the child’s age and current protein intake.
It can also aid in the selection of a product that:
- Non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)
- Low in added sugar
- Made with whole, natural Ingredients
- Clinically tested and/or doctor recommended
- Contains as few ingredients as possible
Risks of Giving Protein Powder to Kids
If your child consumes more protein than they require, it will not be used effectively. Instead, it might put a metabolic strain on their organs. Furthermore, high-protein/high-meat diets have been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and even cancer.
Your kid may encounter a variety of negative effects, including:
Your child may have trouble digesting whey protein powder if you feed it to them. Bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea are all possible side effects. Lactose intolerance is to blame for the majority of these negative effects.
If your youngster consumes more protein than he requires, the extra calories will be stored as fat in his body. In the United States, one-third of children are overweight or obese, putting them at a higher risk of developing chronic weight-related health and medical issues.
Damage to the organs
A high-protein diet may cause your child’s kidneys to work harder to filter out waste products, eventually wearing them out and leading to dehydration. High protein levels can also cause kidney stones. Protein digestion generates nitrogen in the liver, making it more difficult for the body to eliminate waste and pollutants and reducing the body’s capacity to break down nutrients.
However, according to a 2013 research adults who consumed too much protein from food and supplements for an extended length of time had a greater chance of developing certain health problems.
- Kidney stones
- Liver dysfunction
- Coronary artery disease
- Bone disorders
In addition, the 2015 review Protein powders, according to Trusted Source, may have unforeseen negative consequences, such as:
- Taking the place of a child’s typical diet.
- Preventing youngsters from forming healthy eating habits.
- Bloating or diarrhea are examples of physical adverse effects.
Furthermore, too much protein might interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. Overall, it is critical to ensure that a child’s diet does not contain excessive protein.
Lactose Intolerance in Children
Lactose-intolerant children may tolerate small quantities of dairy. They can, however, receive protein from the same places as vegans do. Soy milk is high in protein, whereas other non-dairy options, such as almond or cashew milk, are often low in protein.
What Are The Indications And Symptoms Of A Protein Deficit In Children?
There are a number of indicators that your youngster isn’t receiving enough protein, including:
- Growth rate that is slowed or inhibited
- Immunity is compromised.
- Hunger (which may lead to weight gain)
Contact your physician if your kid exhibits or complains of any of the aforementioned symptoms.
Tips for Preventing Protein Deficiencies in Children
First, familiarize yourself with the daily protein guidelines for your child’s age group, as well as the above-mentioned indications and symptoms of protein insufficiency. Take the following steps as well:
Increase the amount of protein-rich meals in their diet. Find alternatives to provide your child protein throughout the day instead of relying on protein drinks. There are so many nutritious snacks for kids that you’re sure to discover something they’ll like.
Be mindful of the dangers of malnutrition. Kwashiorkor is a kind of malnutrition that is very severe. Kwashiorkor is caused by a lack of protein and other important vitamins and minerals in the diet. It’s more frequent in some poorer countries, although it may happen to any malnourished youngster.
Consult your physician. Consult your physician if you’re not sure where to begin or have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s protein consumption. For further information, they may send you to a licensed dietician.
The majority of youngsters in the United States do not require protein supplements. Protein powder does not appear to help children grow, and there is no proof that it does. A doctor should be consulted if a parent is worried about their child’s diet, development, or weight.
If a doctor suggests supplements because a kid isn’t getting enough protein from diet, search for a protein powder that is age-appropriate, has few ingredients, and no added sugar.