A Must-Read Guide to Food Allergies in Children
Article By: Dominica Dieffenbach, RDN
Dominica is a Registered Dietitian and mom of 2 kiddos currently specializing in the special needs pediatric population. She has over 15 years of experience as an RD, working with a wide variety of patients to provide them with individualized medical nutrition therapy and education.
A food allergy is an immune system response that causes symptoms ranging from discomfort to life-threatening complications. Symptoms of food allergies can include vomiting, diarrhea, hives, itching of the mouth, difficulty breathing, and/or a drop in blood pressure. It's important to note that allergic reactions present quickly.
Unlike food allergies, food intolerances affect the digestive system, not the immune system, and can happen a while after the food was ingested (i.e. feeling bloated after eating eggs). Most children will develop food allergies within the first 2 years of life.
The number of kids with food allergies is growing, and estimates show 1 out of every 13 children has a food allergy — that’s an average of 2 per classroom. Why is this happening? The cause is likely multifactorial with several hypotheses at play including:
1) We live too clean.
Over generations, we now live in cleaner and cleaner environments, and our immune systems are being under-stimulated. As a result, when our immune system encounters food proteins, it automatically interprets this protein as an “invader”.
2) Vitamin D deficiency.
There is a link between low levels of Vitamin D and food allergies due to Vitamin D’s immune-boosting function. Many factors can cause inadequate Vitamin D absorption such as suffering from obesity, spending most of the day indoors, and living in places with limited sunlight in winter. If a Vitamin D supplement is needed, be sure to check out Renzo's Dynamite D3.
3) Delay of introducing allergens.
In the year 2000, the recommendation was to delay introducing allergenic foods until babies were over 1 year old, however, the number of kids who developed food allergies nearly doubled. We now know that introducing allergenic foods early on in life actually prevents food allergies, and delaying the introduction of these foods is problematic.
Approximately 90 percent of all food allergies are caused by the following eight foods: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish. Eliminating these foods is critical for avoiding allergic reactions... However, in doing so, nutrient gaps can arise. Children allergic to milk have higher risk of poor bone growth and tend to be shorter in height compared to those who can tolerate milk. Children eliminating just milk from their diets have been shown to be lacking in Vitamin D, Calcium, and Protein. As the number of food allergies increase, so does the potential for nutrients to be lacking.
|Food allergen||Nutrients lacking when avoided in the diet|
|Milk||Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12|
|Soy||Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus|
|Eggs||Selenium, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12|
|Wheat||Iron, Niacin, Folic Acid, Thiamin|
|Peanuts & tree nuts||Copper, Niacin, Chromium, Magnesium|
|Fish & shellfish||Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Potassium, Vitamins B6, B12, & E|
It’s always a good idea to consider a quality multivitamin such as the Renzo’s Picky Eater Multi for any child with even just 1 food allergy to help close the nutrient gap in their diet.
Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.