100% fruit juice is made entirely from fruit. It contains vitamins and minerals. It provides energy in the form of fructose which is a type of sugar. It tastes good. But should I let my kids drink fruit juice?
Juice can be quickly consumed, but unfortunately it doesn’t keep tummies full as well as whole fruit since the fiber is missing.
When a child takes the time to chew up an apple with the peel, he has to take each bite, chew it, swallow it and then take another bite. It slows down the eating process which gives the body time to feel full from eating. Whole or cut up pieces of fruit contain fiber which helps children feel full and satisfied after eating, whereas juice does not.
Know the Nutrients
Not all juices are equal. Investigate a little at the store. Read the ingredients listed on the package. Look for the words “100% fruit juice.” Avoid any juice drinks that list added sugars. Take the time to know what nutrients are in the foods you’re buying for your family.
|Nutrient||Sliced Apples with Skin|
|Apple Juice, with added ascorbic acid|
|Fiber, total dietary (g)||2.6||0.5||2.7||3|
|Sugars, total (g)||11.33||23.86||22.91||36.09|
|Vitamin C, ascorbic acid (mg)||5||95.5||51.7||4.2|
|Vitamin A (IU)||59||2||71||15|
|Vitamin K (µg)||2.4||0||1.2||1.5|
Research tidbit: Juice that is fortified with vitamin D has been shown to be a “convenient and palatable” way for children to improve intake of this key nutrient. When children don’t get enough vitamin D growing up it can lead to diminished bone formation. This is because vitamin D is essential to calcium absorption which helps build strong bones. If you do buy 100% fruit juice, consider choosing one fortified with vitamin D.
How much juice?
Juice is not recommended for infants under six months of age. There is no nutritional benefit from juice at this age and all nutrition should be coming from breastmilk or formula.
Limit portion sizes of 100% fruit juice to 4-6 ounces per day for children 1-6 years of age. If you serve juice boxes, try to find smaller containers to keep portion sizes down. Use smaller cups for juice. If your children are frequently drinking more than 4-6 ounces per day, consider diluting the juice with water to gradually reduce their juice intake.
Keep juice at the table. Serve it from an open cup rather than from a bottle or sippy cup. Avoid letting your child walk around with a sippy cup of juice throughout the day; this can contribute to tooth decay.
Children 7-18 years old should limit juice intake to no more than 8-12 ounces per day.
Choose whole or cut up fruit instead of juice most of the time for the most nutritional benefit. Keep in mind that children need about 1-1 ½ cups of fruit each day.
Offer water throughout the day since it is best for quenching thirst and keeping kids hydrated.
Juice, just like any other food, isn’t perfect. No single food is good enough to meet all our nutrient needs. That is why we need to eat a variety of foods every day. Each food contains different nutrients that help kids grow up healthy. Juice can be part of a healthy diet.
You might like our previous story on how to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies.
American Academy of Pediatrics Daily Juice Recommendations:
Economos CD, et al. Multinutrient-fortified juices improve vitamin D and vitamin E status in children: a randomized controlled trial. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014; 114(4):709-716.