For the fitness-minded parent, it’s a pretty exciting moment when their children begin to take an interest in exercise and nutrition. But, at that same time, it can be a little scary.
After all, a child's needs are vastly different from those of a full-grown adult. First, you want for your children to be as healthy as possible and want to give them the tools they need to achieve that goal.
So, where do protein powders fit into that mix? For many adults, protein powders are useful, convenient tools for supporting healthy nutrition.
But what about children? What should you look for when selecting a protein powder for your kids?
First Things First...
Before we get into the details of what makes a particular product “the best protein powder for children,” we need to be clear on a few things.
First, always check with your doctor before giving your children any protein or other dietary supplement. Also, consider the unique needs and restrictions of your child.
For example, many protein powders are milk-based. Is your children lactose intolerant or otherwise allergic to milk? If that's the case, you'll want to consider using another protein source.
Many protein powders are sourced from entirely allergen-free plants – like Naked Nutrition's Pea Protein Powder. It's possible, then, that the best protein powder for your child will be different from your own powder of choice.
Keeping It Clean
One of the biggest concerns people have, regardless of age, when it comes to protein powder has to do with the staggering variety of chemical additives found in these products. Artificial dyes, preservatives and sweeteners all find their way into these mixes.
Unfortunately, many of these substances have been shown to negatively affect both the health and behavior of children – contributing to ADHD and even developmental problems.
When selecting a protein powder for your child, then, you'll want to steer clear of these chemicals.
It's also important that you select a protein powder that comes from a clean, organic source. Whether the powder is taken from milk or a plant, it's entirely possible that the source had been exposed to chemical pesticides, fertilizers, hormones or antibiotics at some point before reaching you.
Opt for organic options that are free of these chemicals – many of which are endocrine disruptors. A particularly troubling class of toxins, endocrine disruptors interfere with your body's natural hormonal rhythms. This is always dangerous but, in the case of a developing child, can cause far-reaching effects.
Watch Your Source
We already briefly mentioned the impact that different sources of protein can have, but it also goes a little bit further than potential allergens.
Whey, for example, is full of extremely beneficial peptides that can help improve your child's bone health and even support immune function. Casein carries similar benefits.
Plant-based protein powders, however, may not have that exact healthful substance but they are still extremely useful. In the same way that vegetables are loaded with unique phytochemicals – substances produced by the plant that have benefits for humans – these carry over into protein powders made from those plants.
Depending on the source plant, this could include substances that contribute to tissue growth, eye health and immune function. Some plants, however, could contain undesirable substances.
Soy, which is packed with a compound that acts like estrogen in the human body, is a prime example. This ever-popular plant protein has been shown to cause hormonal disruptions and developmental problems when taken in high doses by children.