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Can Too Much Fruit Juice Cause Diarrhea in Children? Find Out Here

Can Too Much Fruit Juice Cause Diarrhea in Children?
Diarrhea is a common problem in children. But is fruit juice one of the main causes behind it? Well, yes.
NutriNeat Staff
Last Updated: May 5, 2018
Too much fruit juice can cause diarrhea because most fruits contain sorbitol in high amounts. It is a non-digestible form of sugar, which goes heavy on the digestive system of kids. In order to dilute it, the body pulls water from the blood stream into the intestine, causing loose stools, resulting in diarrhea. Fruit juice also contains fructose in high amounts, which can upset a child's stomach. So, too much fruit juice should be avoided.

It's natural for children to like fruit juices, as they come in a variety of flavors and taste good. Many children consume fruit juice as a substitute for milk. As a result they miss out the calcium and vitamin D content in milk which is essential at their age. There are some calcium fortified fruit juices too, but that does not compensate for all the nutrition derived from milk. Fruit juice also lacks fiber and protein that is found in the whole fruit. If you are giving your child, two servings of fruit daily, at least one of them should be in the form of whole fruit. According to Joan Carter Koelemay, senior manager of the Health & Wellness Education Programs for The Coca-Cola Company, the daily need of fruit intake for a child is 2 servings, out of which, if one serving is in the form of juice, the other should be in the form of whole fruit. Excess amount of fruit juice, because of its high carbohydrate content may exceed the intestine's ability to absorb carbs, leading to carbohydrate malabsorption. And carbohydrate malabsorption can cause osmotic diarrhea.
Expert Recommendations for Fruit Juice Intake for Children
Kids drinking juice
Experts recommend giving fruit juice in small amounts and avoid giving it to toddlers because, it is not a good practice to give your child a bottle-full of fruit juice as it causes the juice to stay longer in the mouth and come in contact with the teeth, thus leading to dental problems. Experts say that 100% fruit juice is beneficial for children but when given in small amounts, and that juices should never be used as substitutes for a child's daily intake of milk.
The following table gives you the amounts of fruit juice advisable for children of different age groups:
Age GroupRecommended Amount of Fruit Juice
Infants (under 6 months)-
6-12 months4 to 6 ounces per day
1 to 4 years6 ounces per day
4 to 6 years6 to 7 ounces perday
7 to 18 years8 to 12 ounces per day
Here are some important points parents should remember:
  • When giving juice to your child, make sure that it is diluted with a good amount of water.
  • Pasteurized fruit juices are safe for children. When buying juices, check their nutritional content and ingredients. Avoid going for junk fruit juices which lack nutrition.
  • For infants under six months of age, breast milk is sufficient nutrition. In case of a mother not being able to breast feed, an infant diet formula can be given. No fruit juice should be introduced to replace milk; as this can lead to vitamin, protein and calcium deficiency. According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, malnutrition and stunted growth in children, are associated with excessive consumption of fruit juice.
  • Diarrhea in toddlers is a common problem, and it is often due to unrestricted consumption of fruit juice. As fruit juice is perceived as nutritious, parents do not limit its intake for kids. Though fruit juices are good nutritional sources, they do not remain a requirement, once solid foods are introduced in the children's diet.
  • Small amounts of fruit juice can be made a part of children's daily diet, but they should never skip a meal for a glassful of juice. Instead, kids should be encouraged to consume whole fruits, or mashed ones, instead of juice.
  • Again, fruit juices cannot substitute water. Less intake of water is one prime reason for diarrhea in children. Too much fruit juice and no/less amounts of water can lead to diarrhea as well as other digestive problems.
Important: One loose motion does not mean diarrhea. Do not make sudden changes in your child's diet unless you observe frequent changes in his bowel movements. Monitor his diet and food habits; remember that too much of anything is bad. Do not ignore the digestive problems in your child if they persist for long. Also if diarrhea is accompanied by high fever, frequent vomiting, drowsiness or excessive stomach pain, consult a pediatrician at the earliest.