Protein Shakes For Kids: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Searching for a healthy protein shake for you or your children is daunting, with hundreds to choose from, all varying in ingredients and promises made! Life is busy and it’s easy to grab a quick protein shake as a meal replacement. Are they safe for children? Should protein shakes be considered a meal replacement?

I’ve discussed many times how imperative it is to read labels. I believe that next to our life choices, that food is our first line of prevention and contribution to health and the more we know the safer and more rewarding our choices will be.

Protein powdersThe promises on protein powders and shakes are enticing! Lose weight, have more energy, build muscle, a complete meal replacement, all natural, scientifically proven, just for women, just for men, just for body builders and more claims are abundant in a highly unregulated industry.

Protein is one of the main building blocks for the human body. Without it, our body will begin to break down; muscle, bone and skin will lack resilience and strength. A common symptom of low protein is hair loss. So we look beyond our daily food and nutrition to Protein Shakes for that extra bit of nutrition or for that healthy fast food for ourselves and our kids.

Most people can get the protein they need from eating properly. Yet, kids are notorious for not liking the healthy foods that are good for their growth and a healthy body, namely a variety of vegetables, and the foods that provide proteins and amino acids necessary for good health. And, in this fast paced world, it’s not always a simple proposition to shop and prepare a nutritious meal for kids before school and in the evening, every day. So we hope to provide those missing nutrients through a quick shake with the greatest of intentions.

Boy with vegiesThere is a lot of variety when it comes to protein shakes. Children require about ½ gram of protein per pound per day, whereas the average adult needs about 50 grams of protein per day unless excessively active or an athlete. If kids take in more protein than their body needs, it is either stored as fat or it becomes a kidney burden. Meat proteins average about 20 grams of protein per serving (a chicken breast, hamburger). Vegetable based proteins typically have between 14 and 30 grams of protein per cup based on which legume it is.

If you or your child isn’t getting enough through foods you can use protein powders to augment a healthy diet once they hit puberty. The least expensive and best tasting protein powder is whey-based protein. Unfortunately it is also the most inflammatory. Whey comes from dairy and dairy has been listed as one of the highest allergen food, see FDA ratings here.  I have personally treated body builders who come in for the treatment of back pain. Often, the only thing I do with these patients is to recommend a different protein powder source – and the pain goes away.

Soy is also laden with pesticides unless it is labeled organic and is also on the list of allergens above. So much soy is genetically modified anymore. Even if soy is organic and non-GMO, soy used as a daily supplement can affect your endocrine system negatively as it is considered a goitrogen – causing enlarged thyroid. There is a lot of controversy over soy products. The mature soybean, which is a hard white bean, must be processed with high heat and solvents to access the oils. This creates an edible form of a complex fruit that is extremely processed. The compounds that give soy bad name are:

  • Phytates (which prevent mineral absorption)
  • Enzyme inhibitors (which prevent trypsin, a protease enzyme, from breaking down proteins)
  • Goitrogens (which prevent the thyroid from incorporating the necessary mineral iodine, creating inefficient thyroid function and thyroid enlargement).

Over the past decade better protein powders have been made due to the known allergy/inflammatory issues with whey and soy. You will be able to find vegetable based, organic, non-GMO powders now that lifecore powderare much better for you. The bases of the better ones are brown rice, hemp, pea protein and some even have a potato protein called Solathin™.  Solathin™ is extracted from the protein of potatoes and is made up of a compilation of low molecular weight amino acids, which induce satiety, and is therefore an important part of a weight loss program. One product that has this protein it is called LifeCORE Complete. You can purchase Life Core Complete from our office. My favorite over the counter protein powders are Amazing Meal and Raw Protein. They are both organic as well as vegetable based. Like anything else, too, Protein Shakes should be chosen for their quality. There’s a tremendous difference between a protein shake that is from a well-known manufacturer, which contains fillers, sugars, dyes and chemicals, and one that is truly manufactured for our health!

There are some kids that use muscle builders along with protein powders, which to me is very unnatural and unfortunate for the future of these kids. When growth plates aren’t fully fused they can become distorted if heavy weights are used for resistance. Child body builders are putting themselves at unnecessary risk for growth plate injuries. Some children use creatine as a muscle-building nutrient. I recommend kids don’t start until they are 18 years old or under the supervision of a doctor. Creatine helps your body build stronger, larger muscles. A lot of young athletes are using it to get the competitive edge. In general it is safe but do talk to your doctor first. People with high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease should not take creatine. Creatine is also known to make some people nauseous.

Please view for more information, Hungry for Change, a documentary, for more in-depth discussion about dairy. Your interest in healthy living will be launched exponentially. You can also see a study by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for an in-depth discussion: Health Concerns About Dairy here. I also discuss the derivations of whey protein in my article: Choosing Healthy Protein Bars here.

According to Consumer Reports, a recent study conducted on Protein Shakes reveals heavy metals; lead and arsenic are found in some protein shake products! This independent group did a study in which they compared samples of common and popular protein drinks. Please view this link to see which protein drinks contain arsenic, cadmium and lead in them here. Very scary.

So, wouldn’t it be nice to find a protein shake that does the job, is safe for kids that is:

  • Plant based
  • Non-GMO,
  • Gluten free,
  • Hypoallergenic,
  • Soy free
  • Dairy free?

vegiesOne that also provides the essential amino acids is free of solvents and artificial anything? The three I like the most are Life Core and Life Core Complete (from Orthomolecular), Amazing Meal (by Amazing Grass) and Raw Protein (by Garden of Life).

I also recommend pulling out your blender or bullet and fortifying your protein shake with greens like Kale, Spinach, Collards, Swiss Chard, and Broccoli. Use natural fruits to make it really tasty, like bananas, strawberries, and blueberries. You can experiment to find your favorite combinations. If your child is not getting enough protein in his/her daily nutrition add a small amount of the protein powders listed above to the vegetable/fruit smoothies you already make. They won’t need the whole scoop though. Calculate their intake of protein and if they are under ½ gram per pound they might need a little sprinkle.

dr_ramsey_4_15-13_cropDr. Theresa Ramsey is a practicing physician, speaker, lifestyle expert, author of the best selling book, Healing 101: A Guide to Creating the Foundation for Complete Wellness & a weekly guest expert on Arizona's top morning television show, Your Life A to Z, as their Medical Expert since 2007. Dr. Ramsey has been voted as one of Phoenix Magazine's Top Docs by her peers and selected as an eHow.com health expert. Further, Dr. Ramsey has been voted by the public as the Natural Choice Awards winning Women's Health Specialist for four consecutive years, 2012 – 2015. She elegantly bridges the gap between Allopathic & Naturopathic medicine. Dr. Ramsey is a nationally recognized speaker educating patients & physicians on the language of wellness and root causes to illness & dis-ease. Her focus in her clinical practice is in Lifestyle and Preventive Aging with Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy. Call for your appointment today: 888.970.0077.


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65 Responses to Protein Shakes For Kids: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  1. Dan November 3, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    I have a friend that has an overweight child and I’m encouraging him to exercise more. And was wondering if protein is safe for a 10 year old to take.

    • Theresa November 4, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

      It is safe in 10 year olds. The quality of protein is most important when deciding on what to give your kid. The best would be an organic hemp protein. One of my favorites that we have good compliance with is Complete Meal. It comes in chocolate and vanilla and tastes great mixed with water in a blender.
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  2. Esther December 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi
    I have a set of twins and they are four years old. They don’t eat meat, fish, beans, and vegetables. I am looking for a good source of proteins for them. something drinkable.
    Any suggestions?

    • Theresa December 4, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

      If they don’t eat meat, fish, beans or vegetable, what do they eat?
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  3. Juliet January 5, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

    Where can I buy your products for my 10 and 13 year old?

  4. Matt January 6, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    im 15 and im trying to gain weight. my parents think protein supplements are bad for you. what should i do to convince them to let me take supplements?

    • Theresa January 11, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

      As long as they are non-gmo products and are not zero carbohydrates and as long as the source of protein is clean (I prefer organic but can be hard to find depending on where you live). Look at our Complete Meal on our website (http://www.drramsey.com/product/complete-mealchocolate-or-vanilla/) and try to get a product very close to what the label has and it will be good for you. Add in nut butters and coconut oil and fruit to help gain.
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  5. Victoria January 15, 2016 at 2:18 am #

    My son is 8 yrs old. 4 ft 8 inches and 75 pounds. He races dirtbikes competitively and trains at a training facility Monday thru Friday. Do you think he could use some extra protein to help with energy and stamina? He eats about 1-2 servings of meat a day. He’s not big into vegetables. He likes fruit. He’s very active. What do you think?

    • Theresa January 15, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

      Of course as long as it is a good one and he’s eating lots of greens.

      ~ Dr. Ramsey

    • Tabitha April 23, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

      My son is 11y/o and also races dirt bikes. He trains during the week as well. He loves fruits and vegetables but not a variety of vegetables. He’s not a big meat eater but I feel like he doesn’t eat enough throughout the day t give him enough protein or calories. He doesn’t like to eat a lot when he is hot so I was looking for something to help. Did you find anything with extra protein?

      • Theresa June 15, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

        Without knowing specifics on your sons diet, I would say that it is helpful to understand that protein should comprise about 10-20% of caloric intake, with the rest coming from carbohydrates and fats. It’s normal to have a lower appetite when the body is hot or overheated. I would ensure that he is getting adequate amounts of water, given that he is in the desert racing dirt bikes. His need for hydration is greater when he is active in the desert. He would also benefit from coconut water or diluted Gatorade after 1 hour or more of strenuous athletic activity in our desert heat. For a healthy snack, he could try a kefir smoothie blended with frozen spinach and a small handful of frozen fruit. There are also many clean, good quality protein powders that you could consider adding in if you feel he’s truly deficient in protein or if he’s vegetarian/vegan.
        ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  6. Cara January 23, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    Is the organic hemp protein safe for my 4 and 6 year olds? Looking for a safe protein to add to their smoothies. Thanks in advance.

    • Theresa January 28, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

      Absolutely yes.
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

      • Cara February 1, 2016 at 3:11 am #

        Great, thanks!

  7. wendyluer February 18, 2016 at 5:43 am #

    I have a 6 yr old grandson that struggles with inattentiveness. He is not hyperactive. We are looking for suggestions for duel supplements ect.. what would y I u recommend. Please help

    • Theresa July 6, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

      Hello! Inattentiveness is a complex subject and is not something that I believe is adequately addressed with supplementation. It’s most important to treat the whole person, which provides the greatest opportunity for success. To answer your specific question on supplements, I would start with a good quality fish oil, which provides healthy omega 3 essential fats with DHA to support brain health and function (among many other benefits). I like Nordic Naturals Brand. Ginkgo biloba can also support mental functioning.
      Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  8. Carolin March 29, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    Hi my son is 8 years old, he doesn’t eat meat only chicken. He does eat vegetables and fruits. He’s got ezcema, can I give him protein to add to his smoothies.

    • Theresa March 29, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

      Yes, of course, a high quality protein powder is best!
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  9. Wendy March 30, 2016 at 5:20 pm #

    My daughter is 10 & is a Competitive Gymnast. The owner & Coaches always advise her to get extra protine in her diet especially before & after Gymnastics due to them needed Strong Core Muscles. She eats meat, chicken and green veggies. Any suggestions on what else she can eat/drink for extra protine. She is about 4’11” and 76lbs. She just turned 10. Thank You In Advance! Wendy

    • Wendy June 27, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

      Dr. Ramsey do you not answer my question(s) – You answered all the ones after mine…..

      • Theresa June 27, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

        We provide Dr. Ramsey with the questions from her website on a weekly basis. It is possible, given Dr. Ramsey’s schedule and her 6-month waiting list, that we may have missed providing answers to some of the many questions people ask on a daily basis seeking answers through Dr. Ramsey’s complimentary service. We apologize for missing your question and will resubmit it to the doctors at Center for Natural Healing so you can obtain more details beyond what Dr. Ramsey provided in her article.

    • Theresa July 6, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

      Hello Wendy,
      Competitive athletes generally require a greater amount of protein to prevent exercise-induced protein breakdown, as well as to support muscle recovery. She could benefit from a good quality protein powder and/or branched chain amino acids (BCAA) before and after training. BCAAs are metabolized differently than other amino acids, and can be oxidized in the muscles during exercise for energy. Therefore, BCAA levels can increase the availability of carbohydrates for energy and help protect the muscles from exercise-induced protein breakdown, as well as aiding in recovery post-training. Dosing is suggested at 1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight for resistance training athletes. Given the limited amount of information I have on her, as well as her age and weight, I would suggest aiming more around 0.6 grams per kilogram of body weight.
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

      • Julie October 19, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

        What brand of BCAA would you recommend?

        • Theresa October 25, 2016 at 1:47 am #

          Pure Encapsulations and Thorne are great quality brands.
          ~ Dr. Minesaki

  10. Rita March 31, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

    My 6 Yr old daughter only eats chicken nuggets, pasta with butter, and pizza and some fruit. No veggies. Her nutritionist told me to try boost, pedicure shakes etc. she doesn’t like the taste. She’s only 40 pounds so gaining weight plus getting her nutrients is most important. I am going to try and make my own smoothies. What protein powder is best for her and will it be high in fat?

  11. Renee April 7, 2016 at 1:17 am #

    I read your article and it is very interesting. As we have been recommended by our pediatrician and nutritionist to have more protein in her diet. 11 yrs old and underweight, but they want Carnation instant breakfast or pediasure shakes,etc. We have done those but really want something that is better option and with ingredients you can pronounce and read. Natural. Do you recommend your protein powder ? Really would love the organice and no soy as your article states as well. Thanks.

    • Theresa April 7, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

      We do have just a plain protein powder called Life Core which is for weight gain (Life Core Complete is for weight loss). Our protein that has more nutrients for detoxification and immune support is called Complete Meal and it does have really clean dairy for those not sensitive to it. The Life core has pea protein only. Please compare ingredients to what has been recommended to you.
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  12. anny April 13, 2016 at 2:28 am #

    I’m glad I stumbled upon your post. I have an underweight daughter. She is 6 years old, 33 lbs in weight, and 45 inch in Height. My pediatrician also recommended pediasure but I also don’t like the chemicals in it. I want more natural / safer option. The protein powder that you recommend is Life Core, right? I’m not familiar with how to use protein powder, the only use that I know is to put in smoothies. However, my daughter doesn’t like smoothie too much, so I can’t give this regularly to her. How else can use the protein powder to increase her weight?

    By the way: I also in search of multivitamin, can you please recommend a brand.

    Thank you!

    • Theresa April 13, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

      If you mix it with water in a blender it tastes like a milkshake. You can add any form of ice cream to make it more creamy for compliance. Whatever you can do to help her with compliance – explaining to her that it is a medical necessity (in her terms). She needs you to be in charge, not her. Let this be her multiple vitamin unless she can swallow pills. I legally can’t treat without her being an established patient so I encourage you to establish care. If not with me, with a functional medical doctor close to you. It’s important to get on top of this asap.
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  13. Stephen April 28, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

    My sons 7 years old, small for his again, he a active kid goes to his football I take him boxin trainin with me he likes circuits with body weight ones, I take protein shakes myself the question is would it be ok to let him try it,

    • Theresa June 15, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

      I would first suggest that you become informed with the RDA on protein. From age 7 – 15 years old protein intake is suggested at 0.5 grams per pound of body weight. Without knowing his specific case, including his diet and activity level, I would say that if you feel he needs additional protein that it would be safe for him to consume a healthy whole foods protein snack or a shake from a clean high quality brand. If he consumes dairy, one kefir pouch has about 8 grams of protein in it and is a nice treat for kids. He could have that with an apple and some mixed nuts and get a good additional boost of protein and other needed nutrients.
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  14. Janet May 11, 2016 at 12:55 am #

    I have a 2 1/2 yr old granddaughter, with multitude of food allergies, coconut,soy,dairy,tree and peanuts, almond ,egg, shes also very picky eater, my question what kind of protein shake is safe for her to drink and i only give her organic
    Please help

    • Theresa June 15, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

      There are actually several pea protein based powders available that might be a good fit for your granddaughter. Given her list of allergies, you should carefully check the label and the manufacturing facility to ensure that other allergic foods aren’t processed in the same location. Currently, I am enjoying Sun Warrior Brand protein. You can see if that is a good fit or look for a simpler pea protein powder. On a good note, food sensitivities can be healed with proper naturopathic medical care. In the meanwhile, hang in there; food sensitivities and food allergies can be difficult to work with at times.
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  15. maria May 25, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

    hi my son is 15 goes to karate and kickboxing is he ok to have protein shakes

    • Theresa June 15, 2016 at 10:39 pm #

      During periods of increased tissue repair, such as it is with strenuous athletic training, it is perfectly safe to add 10-20 grams of protein to the diet. He can have a healthy protein snack from whole foods or if needed for convenience, from a protein shake.
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  16. Parva May 26, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    Dear Dr. Ramsey,
    My son is 16 years old. He is very much into building muscle who always compares himself with his non-vegetarian friends where as he is a vegetarian by birth. He can’t start on the meat at this age. He was a very poor and picky eater until 12 years old. Now he regrets not being a meat eater.
    Do you really think vegetarians can’t have as much muscles as non- veg eating people. He is very much concerned about this and sometimes becomes very frustrated and sad. I as a mother want to help him out and even ask him to eat what ever he wants. But he feels uncomfortable start on the meat.
    He is now taking breakfast shake by Dr. Tanya Amen’s OMNI protein. Could you please suggest what other plant protein he can take so that he can be like his peers.
    He feels bloated when he takes hemp seed protein.
    He keeps searching internet all the time to find a good plant protein powder. He came to know through his friends that rice and pea mix preparing is good. He even thinks of taking creatinine. He is not an athlete. I am also worried that he would exceed the protein intake.
    He had bladder reflux when he was 8 years old got it corrected by surgery and was on prophylactic anti biotic.
    Could you please recommend a complete protein. He will be 17 in November.
    I would really appreciate your reply.

    • Theresa June 15, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

      As a mother of two vegetarian boys I can completely understand your concerns. Vegetarians are often discriminated against for not being able to get enough protein; however, vegetarianism done well, with a variety of healthy whole foods can support a strong body with resilient health. I’m not privy to your son’s exact dilemma, but I understand that he wants to gain weight and add muscle to his stature. I would reassure your son that building muscle is completely possible on a vegetarian diet. He would likely be astonished if he learned about the many professional athletes and bodybuilders that are vegetarian.

      The quality of a protein is measured by its mix of essential amino acids. The following protein quality numbers come from nutritiondata.com, the higher the number, the higher the quality of the protein source:

      Meats:
      • lean ground beef
      • skinless chicken breast
      • broiled pork chop
      • canned white tuna in water

      Vegetarian sources (Dairy and egg)
      • nonfat milk
      • egg whites
      • whole poached egg

      Vegan sources (plant sources):
      • peanuts
      • tempeh
      • amaranth
      • black beans
      • quinoa
      • soy protein concentrate

      Many vegetarian sources of protein are of excellent quality. If you make note that egg whites are of greater quality than both red meat and chicken, it is clear that vegetarians are at no disadvantage of building muscle.

      Lastly, to answer your specific question for a protein powder – I like Sun Warrior Brand, which can be found at Sprout’s.

      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  17. Oralia June 7, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi, my 4&6 year old kids are low in iron my doctor recommended vitamins with iron. I look but instead I found this powder vitamins with iron base on plants and organic. But I’m wondering if is safe for my kids. Thank you.

    • Theresa June 15, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

      Iron is a nutrient that is required to produce hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying part of red blood cells. Red blood cells travel throughout the body to deliver oxygen to all cells. If your children are lacking iron, the body can’t make enough red blood cells, and tissues and organs won’t get adequate amounts of needed oxygen. Kids require different amounts of iron as they grow. From ages 4-8 years old, 10 milligrams of iron per day will provide the needed amounts. Here is a partial list of iron rich foods:

      * Tuna, salmon
      * Poultry
      * Red meat
      * Eggs
      * Tofu
      * Leafy green vegetables
      * Dried beans and peas
      * Iron-fortified breakfast cereals

      Keep in mind that there are factors that can increase and decrease iron absorption. For example, foods like broccoli, oranges and strawberries are high in Vitamin C, which when served with iron-rich foods will enhance the body’s absorption of iron. Beverages containing tannins, like coffee or tea will reduce iron absorption when served with meals. Another factor is if your children are vegetarian, as meat sources of iron are more readily absorbed than plant sources of iron. Strive to ensure an iron-rich diet in your children and as recommended by your doctor, it is safe to supplement with vitamins and iron when a child is requiring additional support. I don’t know which particular product you mentioned in your question, as there are many available. Please follow the label dosing for added iron support and make sure to have your children follow-up with their doctor to monitor and reevaluate their iron levels.
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  18. Harshil June 16, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    Hi, am an 18 year old guy who doesn’t get enough protein from my diet. I do MMA training and would like to add whey protein to supplement my diet. My dad is against this, how do I make him up?

    • Theresa June 16, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

      Hmmm, I’m certain you read in my article if you’re commenting on it where I state: If you or your child isn’t getting enough through foods, you can use protein powders to augment a healthy diet once they hit puberty. The least expensive and best tasting protein powder is whey-based protein. Unfortunately it is also the most inflammatory. Whey comes from dairy and dairy has been listed as one of the top allergens food, see FDA ratings here. I have personally treated body builders who come in for the treatment of back pain. Often, the only thing I do with these patients is to recommend a different protein powder source – and the pain goes away. In my article, I recommend LifeCore Complete and for over the counter protein powders, I recommend Amazing Meal and Raw Protein. Your Dad is right on target. I also recommend pulling out your blender or bullet and fortifying your protein shake with greens like Kale, Spinach, Collards, Swiss Chard, and Broccoli. No Whey!
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  19. Laurie June 30, 2016 at 11:49 pm #

    Hi. I have a 20 months old boy and he is really tiny for his age.. 32″ 22lbs
    He eats anything and everything not a picky eater. He has 3 meals a day and 2 healthy snacks. I have recently heard about “pediacure” a protein shake for toddler and kids under 10. Is it really safe to give this kind of thing to him in his morning milk along with his breakfast?

    • Theresa July 5, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

      Hello! Thanks for your question. First let me say that I don’t feel that Pediacure is a very clean product. Here are the ingredients in this Pediacure: Water, Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Concentrate, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Canola Oil, Soy Protein Isolate. Less than 0.5% of: Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Cellulose Gel, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Tuna Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Phosphate, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Potassium Hydroxide, m-Inositol, Carrageenan, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Lutein, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Phylloquinone, Vitamin D3, and Cyanocobalamin. Contains milk and soy ingredients.
      There are better alternatives to Pediacure support growth and development if it is really needed. I use medical foods for patients in these situations. However, if he is not a picky eater than you should have no problem ensuring he has his dietary needs met with healthy whole food meals. He will receive plenty of protein from real food for healthy growth and development.
      I would also caution you to believe that your child is too small for his age, especially if this opinion is solely based on growth charts given to you at a wellness visit. There are many factors that play a role in stature and size, including of course ethnicity. For example, Asians tend to have a smaller stature. If his case is complex or he has other medical conditions I suggest you schedule an appointment with a doctor who is qualified to discuss his individual needs.
      Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  20. Luke July 4, 2016 at 5:30 am #

    Hello, we have a three year old boy that wants chocolate milk every morning. Instead of adding something sugary, we happened to have Orgain, a chocolate plant-based protein (http://goo.gl/mmpUCL) around and have been adding a roughly a teaspoon of that to his milk every morning. I just read that pea protein can have similar effects on hormones as soy, which I know long term use can have negative effects for males. Should this be something we should be concerned about?

    • Theresa July 5, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

      Hello! I took a brief look at this product and it doesn’t look too bad. It appears to be a mixture of plant based proteins and I don’t see it as a problem when used intermittently as part of a whole foods diet. I would have to see the article you are referring to regarding pea protein and hormones. To my knowledge, there is not an issue or concern with pea protein causing disruptions to hormones like soy is known to do. All that being said – I think it would be wise to try to re-train his taste buds to enjoy foods without any added sweeteners. Variety is key and sugar is best left to a minimum and preferably not first thing in the morning.
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  21. Jamie Liverseidge July 28, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

    I have two boys, the eldest is 5 1/2, the younger is 21 months. They never stop eating! In the morning I make them both 1 an a 1/2 eggs fried, and they each have half of a sprouted grain English muffin with honey, and fresh fruit. I make myself protein shakes with hemp hearts, chia seeds, cracked cell chlorella, flax seeds, black sesame, a mix of greens, a banana, almond milk, and chocolate protein powder. Orgain organic brand… The boys always want my smoothie and I’ve always given then cups when I drink mine thinking it’s extra minerals…am I giving them too much protein with this though? Your article was very informative, I’ve always stuck with the plant based, pea protein, organic with no gmo, but having too much protein was never on my radar…should I cut that out of their diets? They snack all day with Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, sandwiches with almond butter and chia jelly, and dinner is typically of paleo variety. Thank you so much for your help!

    • Theresa July 29, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

      Hello! Yes, kids can eat you out of house and home! They are little metabolism machines! Given the high energy level and metabolism of active children, it is more than likely that they are utilizing all of the calories they receive for the maintenance of their bodies, as well as for growth. Most protein powders provide around 20 grams of protein per scoop/serving; therefore, if you are sharing one protein shake among 3 individuals, it really isn’t all that much added protein, in addition to their diet. You can always keep a running total of protein intake for the day and compare it against the amounts needed based on their weight, knowing that children need about 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This usually is around 20-50 grams total, with the higher amount obviously for older children. Abnormal weight gain can be a sign of higher protein intake, but so can kidney dysfunction. Make sure your children visit their doctor for questions specific to their health and/or your concerns, as well as for their wellness exams, which ensure optimal health.
      ~ Dr. Minesaki

  22. Jamie Liverseidge July 31, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    Thank you so much for your reply and all of the information you consistently provide! It’s obvious this is a passion for you, but the time you invest to answer all of these off questions is so valuable for everyone who reads! Your work is so appreciated!!

    • Theresa August 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      You’re very kind ~ yes, it is my passion and I do everything I can to educate and inspire!
      Your recognition of this is most rewarding 🙂
      ~ Dr. Ramsey

  23. Melanie September 16, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    Would any of the shakes you recommended be safe for toddlers? I am looking for something nutritious and full of calories to add to goat’s milk. My 18 month old currently drinks Pediasure, but I am not happy with the ingredients in Pediasure. It was recommended to me that I use instant breakfast pouches mixed with whole milk, but instant breakfast pouches also have some questions ingredients! I would appreciate your opinion. Thanks!

    • Theresa October 14, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

      Hello!
      You are a wise mom! There are ways of supporting your precious 18 month old with supplementation that is free of preservatives, additives and other concerning ingredients. I always encourage my patients to work on optimizing their health through their diet first and foremost. You truly are what you eat. In young toddlers, that can sometimes be challenging as they are new to food and still exploring their preferences. It’s a pivotal time to encourage and support an adventurous palate, as it will pay off hugely as they grow.
      To answer your specific question on the shakes mentioned in this article. I would say the Raw Protein would be fine to include as an occasional supplement to his diet if you felt that protein was lacking. Otherwise, I would consider a greens supplement, such as Greens First mixed in a little water for a healthy dose of nutritious greens in a tasty liquid.
      If you have further questions or need more support, please feel free to contact our office.
      Best of health to you and your family!
      Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  24. Rochelle October 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    Do you have an opinion on the Vega One nutritional shakes? I’m curious whether they are comparable to the other plant based shakes that you recommended.

    • Theresa October 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

      Personally I have not used this product. I did do a brief review of their product website and overall it seems to be a good overall nutritional supplement to a healthy whole foods diet. It would be similar to the sum of the other products we are discussing in that it is a protein powder that is soy and dairy free and contains similar nutrient profiles. If this is a product that you currently have been enjoying, I don’t see a problem with continuing to use it. I do recommend the patients alternate protein powders as a way of offering a variety and rotation to the diet, just the same as you would with the foods you eat.
      Be well!
      Dr. Minesaki

  25. Caroline January 22, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

    My 3 daughters (ages 2, 4, & 6) and me do not get enough protein everyday. I’m not a big meat eater nor or my kids. I try my best to get them to eat healthy, but they are very picky!! However, I’m pregnant with my 4th and wondered if the Raw protein by Garden of Life would be safe for all of us. There are days we get plenty of protein and days we severely lack. Should I give them a protein shake every other day? Are the added amino acids bad for kids and pregnant women? Thanks so much!

    • Theresa February 3, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

      Picky eaters are tough. It takes a lot of time and patience to expand the palate of a picky eater, but it can be done! I would encourage your continued efforts, but working to introduce more foods into his diet. You might want to try preparing the foods differently – baking, steaming and adding a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt to serve, grilling, sautéing, giving the food raw with a dipping sauce. You might also have to go above and beyond with making the food look fun and appetizing by using a favorite animated character plate/bowl or cutting the food into shapes if possible. You may even provide some type of highly desired reward for trying a new food item. Over time, these efforts can pay off and help a picky eater expand their diet to ensure nutritional needs are being met.
      Garden of Life is fine and safe to use. I think that many people believe their protein needs are inadequate; however, if you keep track of your protein intake for a few days, I bet you would find that you are doing just fine. If there is a day where you feel that you’re diet was lacking in protein, you could certainly enjoy a protein shake with your kids. No, amino acids are essential to building strong bodies and growing healthy babies. Pregnant women need around 80-100 grams of protein per day.
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  26. Katie January 23, 2017 at 3:14 am #

    I have a 5 year old boy that is only 37 pounds and a very very picky eater. He only eats fruits, peanut butter crackers, yogurt, and muffins. I do give him boost to aid in protein and other nutrients. Would you suggest the protein your offices uses in a shake over the boost? I’m worried about the other chemicals in boost affecting him. We have tried everything to get him to eat other foods and are at our wits ends. Any advice is welcome

    • Theresa February 3, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

      Picky eaters are tough. It takes a lot of time and patience to expand the palate of a picky eater, but it can be done! I would encourage your continued efforts, but working to introduce more foods into his diet. You might want to try preparing the foods differently – baking, steaming and adding a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt to serve, grilling, sautéing, giving the food raw with a dipping sauce. You might also have to go above and beyond with making the food look fun and appetizing by using a favorite animated character plate/bowl or cutting the food into shapes if possible. You may even provide some type of highly desired reward for trying a new food item. Over time, these efforts can pay off and help a picky eater expand their diet to ensure nutritional needs are being met. Lastly, to answer your question on Boost supplement drinks….. there are cleaner protein powder products that I would replace Boost with. We have a great, vegan protein replacement here in vanilla and chocolate by LifeCore. Make a breakfast smoothie – add some kale or spinach, a handful of frozen fruit and a liquid like water or a milk alternative with maybe a splash of juice, chia seeds, hemp seeds, etc. the possibilities are endless. Good luck!
      ~ Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  27. Will January 24, 2017 at 5:01 am #

    my son is turning 11 this week, he is 70 lbs, 4’6″ and a lean muscular build high intensity multisport athlete (tackle football, basketball and baseball all of which overlap and he is allways in 2 of the 3 with football being the exception). currently he has crossfit, practice or games 5 days a week and if he is not at a practice or game he is working on playing hard on his own, with siblings or friends.

    His endurance and strength to body weight is superior to most everyone else on his teams, however he often has challenges getting motivated to eat enough to gain additional mass.

    finally he is allergic to nuts so the easy fix of peanut butter, whole nuts or many supplement bars do not work for him…

    his diet is protein sufficient most of the time, i believe he just needs additional fuel to burn and build…

    suggestions on a product that will assist him in consuming enough calories to turn his workouts and activities into additional mass?

    • Theresa February 3, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

      What an active little guy you’ve got! He sounds very strong and capable. It also sounds like his diet is mostly complete and sufficient with adequate protein to support his athletic lifestyle. I would encourage continued efforts at supporting his needs through a good wholesome, whole foods diet. You could consider adding branched chain amino acids to support muscle function, fatigue and recovery. Given his weight and the chart, I would aim for around 2,825 grams per day in divided doses before and after exercise. I would ensure that he is receiving 1.3-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily (for strength training athletes). A clean protein supplement powder on days of increased strength training would be a thoughtful option as well. These additions, along with an adequate, balanced diet should provide the calories required to support his activities and additional growth/mass. Other supplements that are aimed at increasing mass are often filled with preservatives and poor quality nutrition and are best to avoid unless you can discuss the product with your doctor. Creatine supplementation is often thought of for building additional mass, but can be harmful to the kidneys and shouldn’t be used without your doctor’s guidance and knowledge of your son’s kidney function.

      Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  28. Venkat February 12, 2017 at 12:14 am #

    Hi,
    My 4 yrs old doesn’t eat vegetables and doctor recommended to give kids vitamin daily. We also want to try with protein shake for his daily intake as he always skips breakfast and wants to drink protein shake ( because I take protein shake daily ).

    Is it safe to try with organic vegetable based protein shake?

    Any recommended brands will help us.

    Thanks in advance.
    Vsr

    • Theresa February 15, 2017 at 12:39 am #

      Hello!
      Thanks for your question. Picky eaters are always somewhat of a challenge, but there are many ways to break through those barriers. A good quality multivitamin can certainly assist with bridging the gaps that may be present in a young child’s diet, especially if they are picky eaters.
      Smoothies pose another way of sneaking veggies into the diet. Spinach, kale and avocado blend very nicely into smoothies and provide added nutrition to the daily diet. From there, you can also consider cucumber, swiss chard or other salad greens. There are many green smoothie recipes to be found in books or online. As far as protein, kids his age require about 16-24 grams per day of protein. This is usually easily achievable in most kids, especially if they are meat eaters. It is okay to add a small amount of protein to his smoothie, if you feel his protein intake was low for that day. For example, if you are making the smoothie for him, I would consider adding a small amount of protein powder around 5-10 grams. If you are sharing the smoothie, you can add the regular amount of protein serving and just give him a smaller portion of your drink. Good luck!
      Dr. Andrea Minesaki

  29. Jessica Jurkowski February 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    Our 9-year-old daughter is a very healthy eater (balanced between all of the food groups), except for when it comes to breakfast. It is almost impossible to find something she likes. She will eat fruit, but I feel she needs a protein in the morning to start the day. We were thinking about making her a fruit and whey protein shake each morning for breakfast (we use Bluebonnet 100% Natural Whey Protein Isolate). Is this a good option?

    • Dr Minesaki February 28, 2017 at 9:17 pm #

      Hello!
      It sounds like your daughter is off to a great start with her nutritional intake! That’s something to celebrate! I admire your desire to see her start her day with a good solid breakfast. It is a very important meal of the day to support her blood sugar, metabolism in general and of course energy/mental clarity etc. Ideally her breakfast would be balanced with protein, healthy fats and some complex carbohydrates. If she is squeamish about food in the morning, a breakfast smoothie might be the perfect fit. Whey protein isolate is not necessarily bad, but for some people it isn’t the best protein replacement choice. If she has a known issue with dairy products causing any reactions from generalized gassiness/bloating to generalized inflammation which could present in a variety of ways, then I would say that you should opt for a vegan source of protein replacement. Otherwise, there is no harm in using whey protein on a rotational basis with other forms of clean, good quality protein supplement powders. I haven’t looked at over the counter protein products lately, but last I checked Sunwarrior Brand looked great. Read labels and make sure to avoid sucrose, as well as other artificial additives. There is a difference between good quality and bad quality supplements. If you need more assistance with that, you can contact your naturopathic doctor for more information. Lastly, make sure you add some greens (kale, swiss chard, etc.) and avocado or nuts for example to her smoothie to balance the nutrition and sustain her blood sugar.
      Good luck!
      Dr. Minesaki

  30. Jaime McColgan March 21, 2017 at 10:43 pm #

    My son just turned 9 years old and was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten. He is very hyper and bounces around like he is a kangaroo on a pogo stick when he is not on his meds, or when they start to wear off. He is so skinny and has always been underweight. As a toddler, he was put on Pediasure, but after starting a Ketogenic diet, I now read labels very closely, and I don’t like what the label says. On top of that, they recommend 2 bottles a day for weight gain!!! He eats a good breakfast, barely anything for lunch (due to medicine), and a large dinner. He is not a picky eater, but he doesn’t eat enough on a regular basis. Would it be safe to give him a protein shake? I currently take Premier Protein shakes that are low on carbs and sugar, and he loves the chocolate flavor.

    • Dr Minesaki March 22, 2017 at 9:22 pm #

      Hello! Protein shakes would be a fine supplement for him to take on an as needed basis. I’m not familiar with Premier Protein Brand, but there are many great products out there. Since you are keen on reading labels – keep a look out to avoid sucrose.
      I would alternate protein powders as some have issues with whey. A good vegan protein powder is Sunwarrior Brand. I would just caution you on the chocolate, especially given his ADHD diagnosis. A good starting dose in a protein shake based on his age would be about 10 grams. If you need more specific care or guidance, please let us know.
      Thanks!
      Dr. Andrea

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