Fruits and Juices

Dr. Parang Mehta, MD.

Children consume a lot of juice, and we all believe it's good for them.  Fruit juice contains vitamin C and other nutrients, and is believed to be healthy and natutral.  However, like other good things, too much is bad.

Advantages of Juices

Juices are derived from fruits and vegetables, which have a lot of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, etc.  Orange juice, for example, contains a lot of vitamin C, which protects us from scurvy.  Carrot juice contains Vitamin A, which is good for the eyes, skin, and other organs.  Other fruits contain anti-oxidants, lycopene, vitamins, and other substances useful for the body.

Fruit juices are also healthy in another way -- they reduce the consumption of colas and other soft drinks.  These soft drinks have been found to contribute to obesity, and also to poor calcium deposition in bones, which leads to osteoporosis and weak bones.  

...and the Bad News

Fruit juices are high in carbohydrate content.  Children who consume a lot of juice can become overweight and obese.  Fat children often grow into fat adults.

Juices are very sweet, and children love them.  Children who carry a can or box about all day and sip frequently may develop tooth decay and dental caries.

Juices are not a complete food.  Nor are fruits.  Neither of them should replace a meal, or dairy products.  Children who regularly consume a lot of juices often do not get enough proteins, fats, calcium, iron, vitamins, and zinc.  

Fruit juices contain 11 to 16 grams of sugars per 100 milliliters.  Sugars are carbohydrates, and since children often cannot digest such large amounts, they remain undigested and are fermented by bacteria in the intestines.   This can lead to loose motions, gassiness (flatulence), tummy bloating, and pain.

Juice Guidelines

Juices should be introduced at the age of six months.  Four to six ounces (120-180ml) a day is adequate for children less than a year old.  More than this has no advantage, and can have adverse effects.

Juice should be given as part of a meal, not as a meal by itself.  It should be served in a cup or glass, which the child finishes quickly.  A bottle or sipper that the child carries around all day is bad for the teeth.

Juices with any additives are classified as fruit drinks rather than fruit juices.  The addition of calcium is a useful measure, but some additives like sugar and other flavouring agents may not be healthy.

Fruit juices are not appropriate for children with diarrhoea.  Fruit juice contains very small amounts of sodium, which can lead to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia.  The high sugar content of juices can actually make the diarrhea worse.

Rotate the juices -- different fruits contain different nutrients.  Consuming a different fruit (or its juice) each day of the week is a good policy.

 

Last Revision: February 12, 2016

Fruit or Juice?

Fresh fruit is better then fruit juice for children.  Fruits contain all the vitamins and other nutrients that juices do, but they also contain fiber, an essential component of the diet.

Young children often sip juices throughout the day, leading to a sweet environment in the mouth for prolobged periods.  This is associated with tooth decay.  Fresh fruit is less likely to be consumed throughout the day, and so tooth decay is not a potential problem.

Packaged juices often do not contain all the vitamins and nutrients that fresh fruit and juice do.  This is because the heating that is a part of pasteurisation destroys some or all of the vitamins.  

Fruit juices have one advantage over fruits -- they can be fortified with other nutrients neede by children.  Calcium fortified juices contain nearly as much calcium as milk, and can be valuable for children who cannot tolerate dairy products, or do not like them.
 

Contact Information

Dr. Parang Mehta,
Mehta Childcare,
Opposite Putli, Sagrampura,
Surat, India.    Tel: +91 9429486624.
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