Daily Soy Limit for Small Children? Need Some Perspective - Mothering Forums
Vegetarian and Vegan > Daily Soy Limit for Small Children? Need Some Perspective
DaisyO's Avatar DaisyO 04:00 PM 12-06-2011

Hi V & V L


I am the mother of a 15-month-old girl; her father and I are vegetarian and she also is, by default.  If she decides that meat-eating is okay when she is older, we shall see but for now she doesn't eat it.


Her dad and I, naturally enough, eat tofu quite a bit.  Not every day, but, you know, every week.  So far I had been holding off with giving Tessa soy, but she has eaten a little tofu a couple of times and likes it, which is pretty good considering how picky she has been getting.  Her main sources of protein have been eggs, goats' milk yoghurt, beans, and whatever is in the rice, quinoa, and cheerios/bread/graham cracker snacks (nothing to speak of in this last category, I know) she eats.  Iron comes from egg yolks, occasional disguised spinach, and Earth's Best baby oat cereal.  I do give her daily vitamins.  I'm pretty careful not to mix the iron up with dairy.


So anyway, I saw her eating the tofu, I thought that was great, but I remembered the pediatrician saying something about a 9 gram daily limit for young children.  Since this would be an incredibly meager amount, I figured I was misremembering, but I e-mailed her about it and sure enough, she replied at once with a recommendation of no more than 9 grams of soy per day.  This is based on "an article [she] read several years ago".  Does anybody know what that article might have been?  I looked around a little in google but couldn't turn up anything with "9 grams".  Has anybody heard of this?  It is kind of alarming/annoying because I thought the tofu would be a great addition to a vegetarian diet, esp. since the picky-ish child will eat it. 


Really, 9 grams is nearly nothing.  There are apparently 84 grams in an adult serving, which is one-fifth of a tofu block.  The pediatrician also made a stern remark about how if I did give her the 9 grams of soy, to make sure there was absolutely no BPA in her environment AT ALL.  Obviously very good advice, but we are as vigilant as we can be without being crazy...I'm sure she runs into BPA sometimes without my knowing it.  I'm tempted to ignore the 9 grams of tofu limit, but the doctor is somebody I really trust and respect so I feel like she might be right???  The issue for her is an increased risk of estrogen-related cancer when the child is much, much older (like menopausal).


So anyway any perspective on this issue would be much appreciated, whether you agree with her or not.  Sorry this got so long!  Thanks for reading



catnip's Avatar catnip 07:02 PM 12-06-2011

I think she means 9 grams of soy PROTEIN, not soy products. That's about one serving of tofu or soy milk, which, if you are concerned about soy consumption, seems a reasonable limit to set.  There are folks around here who will say that any amount of soy is too much, and cite lots of references from Mercola and WAPF proving it.


My daughter eats soy foods, and has since she was ten months old. We buy only organic soy products, and we don't eat lots of highly processed soy foods like energy bars and fake meats, but I don't limit organic soymilk, edamame, tempeh or tofu.

DaisyO's Avatar DaisyO 08:45 PM 12-06-2011

Aha!  Very sensible!  How can I find out how much soy protein is in tofu?  Does it correspond with the protein info on the carton?

thanks for the great answer!!!

catnip's Avatar catnip 08:56 PM 12-06-2011

Since all the protein in tofu comes from the soybeans, the grams per serving on the box is what you'd go by.


dovey's Avatar dovey 09:16 PM 12-06-2011

The doctor seems a little off base to me - what does BPA have to do with soy?  If you give her the soy, then you have to be extra careful of the BPA?  Now that seems silly to me.  Does the doc have any reason to relate the two issues? 

catnip's Avatar catnip 12:49 AM 12-07-2011

I'm guessing that the doctor read something about soy being an endrocrine disruptor. I don't give much credit to the notion myself, but it isn't like limiting to one serving of soy a day would do any harm.

minnowmomma's Avatar minnowmomma 01:48 AM 12-07-2011

I don't see how that could be right since there are some babies who get nothing but soy formula because they are lactose intolerant.

DaisyO's Avatar DaisyO 11:08 AM 12-07-2011

catnip is correct.  The idea is that BPA is disruptive to estrogen production, as is soy, so is best eliminated when soy is introduced.  Whatever, I don't buy cups etc with BPA in them, and I don't let Tess play with receipts (if I can catch her in time, anyway), so I guess we're fine on that one.  Is there some other big source of BPA I don't know about (other than cheap plastic toys)?


Anyway, I see that there are 10 grams of soy protein in an adult serving of tofu, so I guess all is well.  Thanks again catnip and others!

Originally Posted by dovey View Post

The doctor seems a little off base to me - what does BPA have to do with soy?  If you give her the soy, then you have to be extra careful of the BPA?  Now that seems silly to me.  Does the doc have any reason to relate the two issues? 


catnip's Avatar catnip 03:35 PM 12-07-2011

I really think that the soy-as-endocrine disruptor theory is based largely on anecdotal evidence of idiosyncratic reactions to soy. Most of the actual controlled studies on soy involve highly concentrated highly processed massive doses of GMO soy, not realistic consumption as part of a varied diet. Sure, we should not be feeding our kids soy sausages for breakfast, veggie dogs for lunch and Boca Burgers for dinner, along with a quart of soymilk and soy protien bars for snacks. But I don't think there is a lot of evidence based research indicating that less processed soyfoods, like tofu, tempeh, soymilk and edamame, are not safe. I'd ask your doctor to please provide more information on the article she read so that you can read it yourself and decide.


But also! Don't freak out about protein in a vegetarian diet too much! Grains, beans, and vegetables all have protein and it adds up. If your little one is eating a varied diet with enough calories that isn't loaded with refined grains, sugars and juice, then she's going to be getting enough protein, I promise. The limiting nutrients to watch out for are iron and zinc, much more than protein.

swedishmaiden's Avatar swedishmaiden 09:45 PM 12-08-2011

I agree with the previous poster. We are vegan and avoid processed soy products like soy "meats" (yves, boca, etc) except on a rare occasion. I try not to buy anything with isolated soy protein at all. But I don't worry organic soy milk with no added protein or organic tofu in moderate amounts. It's a whole food. Studies have focused on such high amounts of processed soy and I don't believe it is comparable.


Of course, right now I am completely soy-free as my eight week old can't handle my eating it. But that's another story...

mamayogibear's Avatar mamayogibear 09:32 PM 12-09-2011

I let my fifteen month old drink a cup of soy milk a day and sometimes a serving of fake soy meat. I will buy non soy items when I  can find them at the store and would love to be soy free with the exception of soy milk!

wishin'&hopin''s Avatar wishin'&hopin' 05:43 PM 12-13-2011

We figure, all things in moderation and I agree with Catnip on this.  We are vegetarian and have soy probably a couple of times a week (including the boy child, 19 months)...(tofu a couple of times if we make it, we usually eat it as part of a meal with other components so when we have it we usually eat it twice that week; edamame as an occasional snack).  Just like most omni folk, I think, wouldn't eat meat 3 times a day, we don't eat tofu three times a day.  I grew up eating tofu, probably a couple times a week, and it was one of the first solid finger foods I was introduced to. 


Our pediatrician was/is totally cool with our son's vegetarian diet.  He was a bit low in iron for a bit, but that was when we first started solids towards the end of his first year--but with diet we managed to bump it up to a comfortable level (cooking in cast iron rocks!).


Oh faux meat is something we don't give him--mostly because it's soooo high in sodium and it's expensive (oh, and he won't eat it, that too).  Altho' his mommy and I love the field roast sausages and "roast" ourselves!

ChristaN's Avatar ChristaN 10:46 AM 12-14-2011

It sounds like you have an answer with which you are comfortable, but I'm going to chime it a bit as well :).  We, too, avoid processed soy and isolated soy proteins when at all possible.  I've been vegan for about 23 yrs and was, obviously, vegan through both pregnancies as a result as my girls are 11 and 13 now.  I, too, am not sure about the exact article your doctor read, but I did do some research about soy a few years back when an online publication asked me to write an article about it. 


I contacted a number of researchers who had studied soy directly and quite a couple of them were very nice and responded via e-mail or even allowed me to interview them on the phone.  Even those whose studies had been quoted by organizations like WAPF as proof of soy being dangerous to hormonal balance, etc. disagreed with that premise and stated that their studies were being taken out of context.  If you want to read it, it is a few years old, but here's where I wound up: http://www.vegfamily.com/health/vegan-soy-information.htm (I'm not being paid for page clicks or anything; it just seems more expedient to post a link than to try to reiterrate what I said there.)


My girls have always had some soy in their diets.  I did nurse them both for just under two years with my oldest (I was 5 months pg when she was weaned) and 2.5 yrs with my youngest, as well.  I know that the purported health concerns are supposed to occur much later than the pre-teen to teen years, but at least as of now I can say that we've not seen anything concerning.  They're not hitting puberty abnormally early (dd11 isn't even starting), they grew well, they don't have thyroid problems, etc.

Filiz Dolar's Avatar Filiz Dolar 07:43 AM 12-15-2011

Hi Daisy,


I didn't read through all the responses to see if someone suggested it yet, but why not use almond milk.  It tastes amazing, is fortified with nutrients naturally, and you won't have the soy problems.  Thats what I do with my son.


Hope that helps,



Tags: Vegan , Vegetarian