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Nutritional Needs of Growing Bodies

As parents, it’s only natural to be concerned about your growing child’s nutritional intake. After all, it’s every parent’s desire to meet with their child’s dietary needs and then some. It may be smooth sailing for a rare few whose children willingly consume every morsel of food offered, while others may have to put up with fussy eaters, poor appetites, etc.

Ideally, a child’s diet should primarily consist of foods from the following:

  • Milk and dairy products like cheese and yogurt
  • Plenty of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables
  • Meats such as chicken, fish, meat, and eggs
  • Whole grains

The above food groups will provide all the essential nutrients they will need to thrive, such as vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre and carbohydrates. A balanced diet should include foods from each food groups.

Important nutrients

Here are the critical vitamins and minerals that growing bodies cannot afford to do without.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A promotes normal growth and development as it helps with tissue and bone repair. It is essential for healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Vitamin A is also found to protect the body from infections.

Good sources include milk, cheese, eggs, fish, liver, dried apricots, bell peppers, carrots, yams and squash.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B consists of the family of B vitamins from B1 to B12. They are:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin or niacinamide)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

They each perform important tasks in the body, such as helping to release energy from food, as well as in the formation of healthy red blood cells and nerve function. They are collectively needed to aid in healthy circulatory and nervous systems too.

Foods rich in vitamin B include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and soybeans.

Vitamin C

Kids need to consume adequate amounts of Vitamin C for stronger immunity against colds, and for healthy muscles, connective tissue and skin. Vitamin C also helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It is also essential in forming collagen in bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels.

Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, kiwi and green vegetables are excellent sources of Vitamin C.

Vitamin D

Known as the sunshine vitamin, kids throughout the ages have always managed to get ample supply of this vitamin from adequate exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth strength by helping the body absorb calcium. It also helps in the regulation of the immune system, insulin production, and cell growth.

Good sources include milk, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.

Calcium

Calcium should be found abundantly in every child’s diet to help build healthy bones, muscles, and teeth. As growth rate is its highest during childhood, it’s highly essential that children get an adequate supply every day.

Good sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, as well as green leafy vegetables, beans and calcium-fortified orange juice.

If a child cannot take milk or dairy products, calcium-fortified rice milk, soy milk, or tofu should do the trick.

Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that’s needed to make red blood cells that deliver oxygen throughout the entire body. A deficiency could lead to growth deficiencies, learning problems, and behavior issues.

Iron consists of:

Heme iron. This is an easily absorbed form of iron and it can be found in meat, eggs and fish.

Non-heme iron. This form of iron is from plant sources and is not as easily absorbed by the body as heme iron. Tofu, leafy greens, prunes, beans and fortified cereals are sources of nonheme iron. Tip: Heme iron helps improve the absorption of non-heme iron, so mix and match your child’s food for optimum absorption of essential nutrients.

Consider a supplement for your child’s health

Not all kids will be willing to consume a healthy diet on a daily basis. having said that, not all parents are able to offer such a diet to their kids on a daily basis either. As such, a good supplement will be helpful in closing any nutritional gaps in your child’s diet. Consult your doctor for a recommendation.

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