Is Protein Powder OK for Children?
(Las Vegas, NV)
Is it okay to give my 6 year old daughter chocolate protein powder in her milk in place of chocolate syrup? How much is too much?
Answer from the Healthy Diet Mom:
Great question! Let’s first take a look at a child’s protein requirements:
The normal Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for protein, determined by body weight and age are:
• 1 to 3 year-old children: 0.55 grams of protein per pound of body weight
• 4 to 6 year-old children: 0.50 grams of protein per pound of body weight
• 7 to 14 year-old children: 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight
• 15+ year old children and adults: 0.40 grams of protein per pound of body weight
If the average weight of a six year old is 46 pounds, that child would need 23 grams of protein per day. One 8 ounce glass of milk has 8 grams of protein. As you can see, three glasses of milk per day would meet her protein requirements.
But you want to provide her a variety of protein. Healthy foods rich in protein include lean cuts of beef, skinless white cuts of chicken and turkey, seafood, low fat milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt, eggs, and beans.
In general, the average American child gets plenty of protein in their daily diet and does not need the extra protein found in protein powders. Indeed, the average American has two to three times of protein they need in their diet.
I don’t know what kind of protein powder you are using, but many whey powders contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet) and artificial ingredients, which are not good choices for anyone, especially children. Additionally, having a very high level of protein intake can lead to dehydration, kidney damage, and a risk of kidney stones. I would not recommend whey powder for children.
If your daughter is already drinking milk, then she is reaping the wonderful benefits of calcium, vitamin D and protein for her body. The chocolate syrup does add sugar to her milk, and it would be ideal to scale back on the chocolate syrup and get her used to plain milk. But in either case, it’s great that you are encouraging a healthy milk-drinking habit.