Limitaciones nutricionales de las bebidas vegetales en la lactancia y la infancia

The nutritional limitations of plant-based beverages in infancy and childhood


Breastfeeding, infant formula and cow’s milk are basic foods in infant nutrition. However, they are being increasingly replaced either totally or partially by plant-based beverages.

The composition of 164 plant-based beverages available in Spain was reviewed based on the nutritional labeling of the package and the manufacturers’ webpages. This was compared to the composition of cow’s milk and infant formula. In addition, the nutritional disease associated with consumption of plant-based beverages in infants and children was reviewed by means of a literature search in Medline and Embase since 1990 based on the key words “plant-based beverages” or “rice beverages” or “almond beverages” or “soy beverages” and “infant” or “child”.

The nutritional composition of 54 soy beverages, 24 rice beverages, 22 almond beverages, 31 oat beverages, 6 coconut beverages, 12 miscellaneous beverages and 15 mixed beverages was described. At least 30 cases of nutritional disease in children associated with nearly exclusive consumption of plant-based beverages have been published. A characteristic association has been observed between soy beverage and rickets, rice beverage and kwashiorkor, and almond-based beverage and metabolic alkalosis.

The nutritional quality of plant-based beverages is lower than that of cow’s milk and infant formula, therefore they are not a nutritional alternative. Predominant or exclusive use of these beverages in infant feeding can lead to serious nutritional risks. In the case of nonexclusive feeding with these beverages, the pediatrician should be aware of the nutritional risks and limitations of these beverages in order to complement their deficiencies with other foods.

Isidro Vitoria
Unit of Nutrition and Metabolopathies. Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe. Valencia, Spain.