Is Soy Safe For Children?

Soy milk is usually safe for children over one year of age to drink.  You should limit the amount of soy milk to one or two 8 ounce glasses per day.

Soy is a protein which comes from the legume known as the soybean.  There are two different types of soy products.  The unfermented soy products include products such as soy sauce, soybean oil, soy protein powders, soy milk and baby formula.  The second type soy product is fermented and included in this group are products such as miso and tempeh.

Some children who are lactose intolerant and unable to drink cows milk are able to drink the soy milk.  A small percentage of lactose intolerant children cannot drink the soy milk either.  Some children are allergic to the protein in the soy milk.  They may eventually outgrow this allergy and then again they may not.

Soy milk does not provide as much calcium as cows milk.  Although the label on soy milk may state fortified soy milk contains 200 – 300 mg of calcium per 8 ounce glass the soy milk also contains phytates which reduce the absorption of calcium and other minerals. (Phytates is a naturally occurring substance found in nuts, legumes and whole grain foods.)  Since the body will absorb only about 75 percent of the calcium in the soy milk you want to add more calcium in the diet from calcium rich foods.  You might add calcium fortified juice, cereal, or breakfast bars.  Or you might add calcium rich yogurt, cheese, kale, or broccoli.

Since children need some fat in their diet for brain development choose the full fat soy milk unless advised by the doctor to use the low fat soy milk.  You want the soy milk to be fortified with vitamin A and D in addition to the calcium.

Soy milk does not contain any vitamin B12 since it is a plant based product and B12 comes from only the animal products.  You can add the B12 nutrient if you pour the soy milk over vitamin enriched cereal.

If you decide to give soy milk to your child you might want to use the organic soy milk.

Non-organic soy products are most often genetically modified.  The soybean crops are often treated with a herbicide known as Roundup which has been indicated to cause some illnesses in farm workers who came in contact with the herbicide.

There are some studies that indicate drinking soy milk as a child may help reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Soy products have been safely consumed for centuries.  In moderation, one to two cups per day, it is probably safe for your child to drink soy milk.  If  you have any concerns about your child drinking soy milk consult your health care professional.

If your child does not like the taste of plain soy milk it is available in flavors.