The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Is V8 Good For My Child Edition

For my son’s afternoon snack, we usually give him some vegetable crackers, a banana, and a cup of low-sodium V8. To us, this seemed like a really healthy snack, as it gets a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables (via the V8) into his system. Yet I was almost yelled at yesterday for giving my son vegetable juice because the calories are “empty.” I asked for any sort of evidence or proof of this and received another blast of rhetoric. So I’m asking you: does this seem like an unreasonable afternoon snack for an 18 month old boy?

Financial Urban Legends Debunked My favorite one is actually the first one. I had a person rail at me at length that you didn’t have to pay income taxes because they were illegal. (@ saving without a budget)

Can You Save Too Much In An Emergency Fund? I say no (unless it literally exceeds your living and estimated medical expenses for the rest of your life), though apparently others disagree at least to a point. (@ money smart life)

Why I Decided Not To Buy A House This is basically a list of fears that a person needs to overcome before buying a home. (@ personal finance advice)

The Simple Dollar Retro: The Ten Second Rule This is a great way to help yourself cut down on impulse purchases. I still use it on occasion, particularly when I’m in a music store – I talk myself out of buying anything at all, usually.

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  1. Lifeguard says:

    V8 is low in calories (40 Cal) and has 40% of the adult recommended allowance for Vitamin A and 120% for Vitamin C. It is not empty calories, IMO.

  2. Lifeguard says:

    V8 is low in calories (40 Cal) and has 40% of the adult recommended allowance for Vitamin A and 120% for Vitamin C. It is not empty calories, IMO.

  3. Jack says:

    Doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. But how about making your own?

  4. Madelaine Gogol says:

    People are crazy about food. They need to read “The Gospel of Food” and just calm down a little. I think it’s fine.

  5. Amelia says:

    I agree with the other two comments. First of all, I think it’s obnoxious to comment on what other people feed their kids. I hate to see people letting their children eat junk, but I do not have any right to make that decision for them. But aside from that, what’s wrong with V8? Sheesh. Dietary decisions are very much like financial ones – very personal and you have to do what YOU think is right for your family. I happen to agree – your son’s snacks sound really nutritious.

  6. Calories only come from either carbohydrates, proteins or fats. There will be some carbohydrate and protein in V8, but hardly any fat (unless V8 has more than just vegetables in it!). It wouldn’t have much protein, but if he’s eating any meat or fish during the day I don’t think he’d be lacking for protein. I think this is fine for a kid’s snack. “Empty calories” is usually a term reserved for items very high in sugars (a specific type of carbohydrate) and not much else. If the V8 doesn’t have added sugars it should be fine. The V8 should also be a source of dietary fibre, which is good.

    The only thing I’d check on is how much sodium is actually in the V8 – many “low sodium” products are actually quite high in sodium, they just have less than the “normal” version of the product.

  7. Anne says:

    Juice in general is sometimes looked down on because you are just drinking the sugary juice from a fruit rather than eating the whole thing with fiber and all. Maybe this is where the criticism stemmed from.

    But unless V8 is actually high fructose corn syrup and food coloring like many other drinks, it seems perfectly nutritious. I always prefer to eat the fruit or vegetable and never drink juice, but that might not always be an option for a small child ;)

  8. DrBdan says:

    Aside from the current health benefits, giving your kids healthy snacks should also have a positive effect on their future eating habits. A child that grows up eating fruits and vegetables is more likely to eat them as they get older, which will serve them well through their entire life.

  9. Ali says:

    I agree with everybody’s comments so far. In fact, I want to thank you for the idea. I have a 2-year old who is very picky about which fruits and veggies he eats, but he LOVES juice (especially if it comes in a can, like soda)! I have never thought of trying V8 juice. Maybe it will help him learn to like veggies. Thanks!

  10. Brad says:

    The income tax almost certainly is illegal, but that won’t stop them from throwing you in jail if you don’t pay. :)

    We are far from our original roots in this country.


  11. Matt says:

    I’ve heard the “empty calorie” concern with fruit juice, but it has a lot more sugar (and calories) than vegetable juice. One of the issues is that fruit juice doesn’t have the fiber of whole fruit.
    Still, even fruit juice is considered okay in moderation. Vegetable juice would be that much less objectionable…

  12. John says:

    If you are too iron-fisted about anything with your kids, they will ultimately test you, or worse yet, hide things from you.

    If you follow the food nazis advice, and not your own about moderation, you will end up with behemoth, diabetic, sugar-swilling kids and not kids who can make the proper choices and enjoy treats for what they are: treats.

  13. Gal Josefsberg says:

    Vegetable juice is ok when it’s fresh. The problem with most canned juices is the additives. I haven’t taken a close look at V8 but a simple check of the box will tell if how good it is. Even vegetable juices will often have things like high fructose corn syrup and sodium added for flavor or preservatives for a longer shelf life.

    In general, vegetable juices are not as bad as fruit juices or sodas, but they’re not as good as eating a fresh vegetable and drinking some water. Of course, the water and fresh vegetable solution may not be realistic or practical depending on the child and the time of year.

    So read the box carefully and then choose the solution that works for you. If you can’t go for the healthiest choice, at least go for the second best one, which sounds like what you’re doing.

  14. adam says:

    Getting your own juicer and making your own V8 sounds like more fun than drinking sodium-laden prepackaged juice. Your fresh juice won’t be pasteurized, have any additives or use up resources such as plastic bottles and packaging. You can also use the pulp from the juice in compost or in cooking.

    Juicing fruits will have a high amount of sugar however the sugar is 100% natural. I think it’s ironic that high fructose corn syrup is used to sweeten grape juice.

  15. Thomas says:

    I don’t know the V8 and I’m very sure that there is special advice to follow for toddlers.

    Personally, I limit how much fruit juice I drink as it’s as bad as your average soda in terms of calories. Yes there are vitamins in fruit juice but it’s much healthier to eat a piece of fruit instead. By eating a piece of fruit you get a lot of fiber and as the piece of fruit hasn’t been processed, you get more vitamins than the from the juice (Where I live adding extra vitamins to processed food including juice is illegal).

    My source is advice from the national health advisory in Denmark.

  16. Jim says:

    As a father of twin 5-year girls and husband of a nutrition advocate, I applaud your attempt to give your child nutritious snacks. I would say, though, that in addition to the concerns about the lack of fiber in juice and the caloric value of the juice (especially compared to water, for which children often substitute drinks with taste and calories), there’s the issue of children’s need for calcium. There are several studies out there (that certainly seemed independent and credible) that make a strong case for ensuring your child gets plenty of calcium early, as it’s quite difficult to correct calcium deficiencies later in life (even in the adolescent years). Suppliments aren’t as effectively utilized in the body as is calcium from food and milk, and a large number of adults have extreme calcium deficiencies stemming from never having developed the taste for/habit of consuming dairy. That being said, ALL things in moderation. Too much milk = too many calories and (unless you use low-fat varieties) too much fat. Just mix it up, and tell those well-meaning dietary architects to concern themselves with their own houses first. Best of luck.

  17. Matthew Scott says:

    One word: sodium. V-8, especially the “regular” version, has a ton of sodium. Excessive sodium is not a dietary requirement and the US RDA of sodium is abysmally high.

    If you really want to find out some interesting things about feeding kids in such a way that they are healthy, but still giving them “treats” (that are still very healthy!) you could try reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right”. Search for it on Amazon, read the excerpt, see if your local library has it.

    The title refers to the increasing body of scientific knowledge that indicates that the healthier a child eats early in their life, the less disease risk they assume as an adult.

    If you conquer your adult food addictions (as myself and my wife did), it really does work, and it really has a remarkable effect on the entire family. Don’t be swayed by yourself or other adults claiming it’s too difficult — that’s food addition speaking (essentially, everyone is addicted to the food they eat, whether it’s healthy or unhealthy) and it’s not difficult at all and by reading your other posts I know you already have a good step in the right direction as far as nutritional excellence in your family :)

    Good luck and happy healthful whole-foods eating!

  18. Matthew Scott says:

    Another tip — try low-sodium Triscuits for crackers, instead of vegetable crackers which are also high in sodium and have refined flour in them. In contrast, low-sodium Triscuits have a simple ingredient list — whole wheat, a touch of salt, and a touch of vegetable oil. Vegetable crackers don’t give you any vegetable nutrition, they just have vegetable flavoring mixed in with all the other ingredients. For the fruit, be sure to mix it up too — bananas are good but so are other fruits. Finally, if your child doesn’t like to eat fresh raw vegetables, steaming them is a great and simple way to soften them up, change their flavor and texture profile, without deactivating a lot of nutrients — in fact with some veggies like broccoli, some nutrients are made less effective by steaming, but other nutrients are made -more- effective.

  19. Amy says:

    I took my 18 month old to her checkup and V8 was recommended to me by my pediatrician because it is so hard to get her to eat veggies.

  20. lorax says:

    The last time I checked, Triscuts have partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is pretty nasty itself.

    Personally, I’d feel fine about giving kids V8, or even fruit juice as part of a varied diet. At least for my kids, the trick is to disguise the vegetables in the meal. Check how Indian/brahman cooking is done, vegetables are used as bases for pastes, gravies, etc… and taste absolutely fantastic. Vegetables are tough for most of us european stock, we tend to boil the veggies and tell the kids to eat!

  21. jake says:

    hmmm maybe its time I drink V8.

  22. lorax says:

    heh… never heard of the bible myth. I guess I don’t get out early enough.

    I have heard of the income tax story, I kinda hoped it would be true until I read though the 16th amendment (almost 100 yrs old). It’s very black-and-white:

    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

  23. Rose says:

    I see nothing wrong with this snack.

  24. Mitch says:

    The V8 is low-Na, high-K. (Bananas are also high-K.) The point about Ca is a good one, and also the point about variety, but V8 is not awful as one color in the palette.

    “Healthy” is broader than a lot of people think. You know, if you have a milk allergy you supplement elsewhere and are more conscious of the need for weight-bearing exercise.

  25. Golbguru says:

    I have spent a lot of time looking at nutritional values on food stuff…honestly, it’s (V8 or equivalent vegetable juices) one of the best things out there. It gives you a healthy mix of all the vitamins and the pleasure of drinking *juice*.

  26. Dean Jackson says:

    V8 isn’t ‘empty calories’, as it does have nutritive value, and substantially more than juice drinks, soda, or kool-aid.

    Juices aren’t as good for you as the vegetables they come from. They’re not as fresh, so some of the vitamins have gone down in quality, and you’re missing the fiber and bulk, which is another primary reason why vegetables are really good for ya.

    That said, V8 is a pretty stellar thing for the kiddo to drink, I’d think. If they like it, A+++.

  27. Momof 4 says:

    I totaly agree with everyone else. I wish my kids WOULD drink V8.

    As for getting “yelled” at….unless it’s a family member, tell the person to MYOB !!!!

  28. Matthew Scott says:

    lorax: it must have been a while since you’ve checked — Triscuits, in their current incarnation, do not have partially hydrogenated oil in them. If they did, I certainly wouldn’t have recommended them, nor would I buy them for my family :)

  29. EdTheRed says:

    Hey, as long as there was no domestic vodka in it…(just kidding). V8 is pretty healthy stuff compared to most of the crap in cans out there…

  30. Debs says:

    I can’t explain, but I loved Low Sodium Triscuits…but I can no longer find this item on the shelves…just learned Kraft/Nabisco stopped making them…:-(

  31. Jen says:

    Kids must be more spoiled now than ever, we loved all veggies and our mom made her own version of V8 that was delicious, we also reached for fruit before candy in our home, so not all kids are so reluctant to eat a variety of foods, me & my 3 siblings must have had mature tastebuds, we were never given dessert or soda and we never really wanted it or snuck it, even now as adults. We were all born in the early to mid seventies and I think it is just what kind of example your parents lead by and if you are coddled so much that you are never encouraged to try and try again. Spoiled brats and temper tantrums weren’t allowed (period) in our childhood home. I am 34 now and have never had the flu or taken antibiotics or had an earrake or tooth ache etc etc etc nor have my siblings, I think it is because we never did the twinkies and high sodium and hig sugar and overly processed route!

  32. Holly says:

    I would ask anyone to BEWARE of V8. Having a friend who has suffers from a severe allergic reaction whenever she drinks it, I can safely say that their ‘helpline’ were appalling, refusing to give her the ingredients (and not even knowing themselves without asking their head office in Belgium, who take 2 months to get back). I understand that every product has a recipe that they want to protect, but she wasn’t asking for the quantities, and it was obvious that this was for medical reasons and not to ‘usurp their secrets’. For a company to put profit over lives is appalling, and I certainly wouldn’t buy it now on principle. Also, it’s made me wonder just what exactly is in this juice that’s not listed on the carton. By law in the UK, only the top allergens need to be listed, so the makers of V8 are abusing this law by refusing to give out details to people suffering from severe allergic reactions when drinking it. Appalling if you ask me.

  33. simsalabim248 says:

    Sure would be nice to hear some scientific data on the subject instead of all this anecdotal stuff! Why are there no Nutritionist or doctors chiming in! Too afraid of being sued probably. Sad.

  34. Jan says:

    Reply to Holly: I currently have an upper lip that is extremely swollen and I believe this is due to drinking the Spicy Hot V8 this morning. I’m wondering what is in it to cause such an allergic reaction. I can sympathize with your friend!

  35. elledani says:

    I’m so glad to have found this post. My mother has been giving my 18 month old daughter v8 and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. My kid guzzles it down! She doesn’t have any allergies- knock on wood but I’m still interested in what a peds nutritionist might say… I agree.. why aren’t the professionals answering!

  36. friendviola says:

    i would be more worried about the “vegetable” crackers than the v8. i would imagine a baked whole wheat cracker would be alot better…you could even try baking your own, i’ve found making crackers pretty easy and REALLY cheap. then you know exactly what’s in them and have a big batch in no time. might be a fun project for a kid to help with too.

  37. Fancy Nancy says:

    First this is a snack – So I applaud you for being so concerned about this small part of the overall Diet. To me this means you are probably giving your child a healthy overall balanced diet throughout the day.

    Given the alternatives, and the work involved raising a child, you are doing very well with this type of snack.

    People will always provide criticism of what you do as a parent – the degree of criticism corresponds directly to their narrow-mindedness.

    Read the labels and made your own decisions – and realize perfection is easy to wish for but impossible to achieve.

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