How much juice is too much?

The family doctor and dentist have said that the only acceptable level for juice intake is NONE, but we participate in wic and their nutritionists say that 8-16 oz. per day or more is best. What is your view?

We are currently going in the middle and allowing about 4-6 oz. per day.

Thank you for your time.
Lyn

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Lyn,

Your compromise has helped you to arrive at the perfect spot! You apparently have gotten two extremist views that counter each other, and both have probably come from a reasonable place, but have just taken it too far. The doctor and dentist have most likely seen the result of too much juice drinking, such as rotten teeth and poor growth, and so they say none. The WIC nutritionist perhaps knows that juice is the only fruit than many kids will eat (drink) and that it can be a good source of the necessary vitamin C, and so she/he recommends a more than generous amount of it.

The fact of the matter is, the properly chosen juice can make an important nutritional contribution to a child's diet, but too much of it can spoil their appetite for other, more important foods. About 4 to 6 ounces of a juice rich in vitamin C is enough to give the kids what they need, and so could be included in the diet, particularly if no other vitamin C rich foods are eaten. More than that is supplying more vitamin C than they need, which is not harmful, yet the extra calories that come with that extra juice can be harmful in that it may displace other nutritious foods.

When choosing a juice for your kids, make sure it contains an abundance of nutrients. That means if you choose apple juice, which is naturally low in most vitamins and minerals, you should buy one that has been vitamin C fortified. Orange juice is naturally full of vitamin C and is a good source of folic acid. There are loads of juices to choose from these days. Pick only those that say 100% juice, then read the nutrition label to be sure the calories are worth the other nutrition you get from it.

Thank you for writing.

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