Apple cider vinegar or ACV is a vinegar produced by fermenting apple juice. Research suggests it has several medicinal and therapeutic properties that could benefit health over time (1). But though it is generally safe for adults, is apple cider vinegar for kids a safe choice? Understanding this is in detail is essential to avert its side effects that may affect children.
Generally, ACV is available in two forms – unfiltered and filtered. Unfiltered ACV contains the bacterial culture called the “mother,” which is known to have probiotic effects. However, it can have some ill effects on sensitive children. Thus, it must be administered with thorough pediatric guidance only.
Read on as we tell you more about the safety of ACV for children, its possible benefits, side effects, and the proper ways to add apple cider vinegar to your child’s diet.
Can Children Consume Apple Cider Vinegar?
Children can consume one to two teaspoons (5-10ml) of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water before meals, or served during meals with a food item, like a salad (2). However, check the suitability of the vinegar first. ACV with “mother” contains Acetobacter aceti bacteria, which is known to have probiotic effects (3). But these bacteria may cause allergic reactions in some individuals (4).
If you are concerned about how the child would respond to unfiltered apple cider vinegar, then pick filtered and pasteurized vinegar, which contains very little bacteria. If your child has any gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, allergies, dental problems, or is on any medication, then consult a doctor before introducing ACV (1) (5).
Possible Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar For Children
ACV contains probiotics, minerals, vitamins, and a wide array of bioactive compounds, such as organic acids and polyphenols (6), which may provide some health benefits in the long run.
- May support digestive health: Anecdotal evidence supports using diluted apple cider vinegar with meals to promote healthy digestion and relieve bloating (7). However, the clinical evidence to validate the use of ACV for improving digestion is sparse.
- May work as probiotic: Unfiltered ACV contains probiotic bacteria good for the gastrointestinal system. It is also believed that apple cider vinegar can improve the absorption of minerals in the gut (1). Nonetheless, more research is needed to conclude these claims.
- May relieve acid reflux: Diluted cider vinegar to treat and manage acid reflux is a common home remedy (8) (9). Some individuals may find the home remedy effective in relieving their symptoms. However, clinical studies backing this use are sparse.
- Could support immunity: ACV has been used in traditional medicine as a natural remedy to treat microbial infections, reduce the duration of common cold, and improve immunity. It is also known to display antioxidant effects (10). These benefits are attributed to the presence of probiotic bacteria, acetic acid, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid in apple cider vinegar (6) (11). The presence of vitamins A, C, B6 and essential minerals provides good nutrition as well.
- May relieve eczema symptoms: Eczema is an inflammatory condition with dry, scaly, red patches on the body. Regular bathing with bathwater containing a small amount of ACV may help prevent skin infections and provide relief from eczema (12) (13). However, more research is needed to support this theory.
- May fight scalp problems: ACV has been a part of the hair care regimen to cure dandruff in traditional medicine. The use of ACV is also believed to fight fungal infections (14). Mixing it with an equal quantity of water and spraying it onto the scalp can remove dandruff. However, more research is needed to prove these effects.
- May help maintain the skin’s pH: The topical application of ACV may help restore the skin’s pH level to a healthy range (13). However, further studies are required to examine this effect.
- Could support weight loss: Regular consumption of cider vinegar with a balanced diet and active lifestyle may help in weight loss among obese individuals. Studies note that ACV may help suppress body fat accumulation to achieve weight loss (15) (16). However, ACV is not a replacement for conventional weight loss measures, such as exercise and a healthy diet.
- Could benefit overall health: Regular use of apple cider vinegar is noted to benefit those with conditions such as type-2 diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) in the long run (17) (18) (19). However, to attain these benefits, apple cider vinegar should be consumed as part of a well-balanced diet.
Apple cider vinegar could provide some benefits that can promote overall health. Yet, encourage your child to eat a whole apple to achieve a broader spectrum of health benefits.
Possible Side Effects Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Allergic reactions and drug interactions are potential side effects of ACV. Some of the other likely side effects of oral and topical use of apple cider vinegar are the following.
- Increased acid reflux: Excess consumption of apple cider vinegar can increase acid reflux causing gastrointestinal issues, like upset stomach (15).
- Mouth and throat burn: Drinking undiluted cider vinegar can burn the mouth and throat, leading to sores.
- Skin burns: Applying undiluted cider vinegar to treat any skin condition, like mole, acne, or skin infection, can cause skin burns (20).
- Tooth decay: Although mildly acidic, undiluted ACV can dilute the tooth enamel and damage the teeth due to erosion (2).
- Low potassium levels: Consuming excess apple cider vinegar (more than two tablespoons a day) may increase the risk of lowered potassium levels in the body (21). It is uncommon in children and teens, but you must still exercise caution.
Tips For Using Apple Cider Vinegar For Children
These tips could help in the safe use of ACV among children and teens.
- Prefer organic, filtered, and pasteurized apple cider vinegar from a trusted brand.
- If you wish to serve unfiltered apple cider vinegar, then first serve half a teaspoon along with meals. If it suits the child, then you can increase the quantity to one to two teaspoons.
- Whether oral or topical application, use apple cider vinegar in the diluted form.
- Rinse mouth with plain water even after consuming diluted apple cider vinegar.
- Allergic reactions to ACV may be rare but possible. Stay alert to any signs or symptoms of ACV allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance.
How to Add Apple Cider Vinegar In Your Child’s Diet?
Below are some handy tips for using ACV to prepare healthy recipes for your children and teens.
- You can add tart-tangy flavor to soups by adding apple cider vinegar.
- Make tangy-tasting salads by using apple cider vinegar in salad dressings.
- Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to refreshing lemonade or vegetable juice.
- You can also use cider vinegar to marinate chicken and meat or veggie kebabs.
- Use ACV as an alternative to white vinegar for preparing sauces or as a flavor in the meals of your kid.
Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes For Children
Try these tasty and healthy apple cider vinegar recipes for your children and teens.
1. ACV and cranberry mocktail
You will need:
- 1 cup cranberry juice
- ½ cup water
- 2tsps organic apple cider vinegar
- 2tsps maple syrup or raw honey
- Mix all the ingredients in a pitcher, add some crushed ice, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Serve chilled with nachos or rye crackers.
2. Cider vinegar salad dressing
You will need:
- ½ cup shallot (peeled, cored and quartered)
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar
- 2tsps Dijon mustard sauce
- 2tsps Manuka honey
- Black pepper powder, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Blend shallot, vinegar, mustard sauce, honey, oil, salt, and pepper into a smooth paste, using a food processor or blender. Ensure no lumps are left.
- Use the dressing on a salad. If there is any leftover, store in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.
3. Ginger and ACV switchel
You will need:
- 2tsps organic apple cider vinegar
- 4tsps honey
- ¼ tsp ground or grated ginger
- 1 cup water
- Mix all the ingredients in a pitcher and refrigerate for two hours or up to a day.
- Strain the mix through a fine sieve and store in a bottle.
- Serve a glass with a grilled sandwich or taco.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can kids eat apple cider vinegar gummies?
Apple cider vinegar gummies meant for kids are available in the market. However, it is best to check with a pediatrician before giving them to children.
2. Does apple cider help kids poop?
Warm apple cider vinegar may increase bowel movement, but sufficient scientific evidence is not available to prove its efficacy in children. Self-treatment with apple cider is not recommended if there are existing stomach issues (7) (22).
3. How much apple cider vinegar is safe for kids?
Children should not be given more than two teaspoons (10ml) of apple cider vinegar daily. You should ensure to give it in diluted form (2).
Apple cider vinegar for kids is beneficial in multiple ways. You can introduce it by mixing some in soups, salads, and refreshing drinks. You can experiment the same with more recipes and dishes once your child gets adjusted to the taste. However, make sure that it should be given in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. It can be a great source of nourishment for your child or teen in the long run. You may even consult the doctor if you have any doubts about its suitability for your little one. Lastly, do not force your child to consume ACV if they do not want it.
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