What is deficient in Noah's vegetarian diet?
"Ten-year-old Noah has always loved animals. It was no surprise when he came home last week announcing that he was becoming vegetarian. While Ideena wants to support her son's choice, she is concened, since meat is a ready source of complete protein. in addition, Noah is a very picky eater.He is willing to eat only whole grains and refuses to eat legumes, seeds, and nuts."
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Noah is going to have some serious nutritional deficiencies if he only eats whole grains. While grains do provide some proteins, these proteins are considered to be incomplete - this means that one or more of the nine essential amino acids are not present. Grains need to be combined with legumes in order to get all the necessary amino acids. Since the body uses the amino acids consumed in the diet as building blocks to create proteins, not getting all nine essential amino acids on a regular basis has many health ramifications.
Additionally, Noah will be lacking in vitamin B12, since it comes almost exclusively from animal sources. Most vegans take vitamin B12 supplements in order to stay healthy. Whole grains are also very low in iron and calcium, two important minerals that Noah needs in particular because he is growing.
On some level, Ideena is going to have to have a heart to heart and open discussion with Noah about where he is and where he needs to be from a nutritional point of view. Being the age he is, there are some needs that the body must have in order to be as healthy as he can be. At the same time, Noah must recognize, through Ideeena's guidance and counsel, that if he is going to embrace vegetarianism, then he must change some of his eating habits. It is difficult for a ten year old who needs a balanced diet to persist in being a fussy eater. I think that some modification is needed here. In terms of the diet itself, Noah is going to have to embrace legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are all excellent sources of protein, items needed for the sustenance and development of muscular tissue now that meat is gone from Noah's diet. The Omega 3 element lost from fish can be recouped in nuts. If Noah does not have an allergy to them, I think that he has to embrace nuts for their protein and fiber, as well. Essentially, some level of choice is going to be needed and through counseling and guidance there is a way for Noah to embrace his vegetarian stance, but it will come with more maturation in his food desires.
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