12 Nutrients That Are A Must-have For Children
From cognitive to physical and emotional development, good nutrition is vital for children to reach their full growth potential.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s your child’s bite of greens that she/he refuses to have. If that’s your dilemma often, you know how difficult it is to get children to have nutritious food. From cognitive to physical and emotional development, a balanced diet is vital for children in their growing years. Studies even show that good nutrition in the early years is linked to an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing in later years. Hence, good childhood food habits can help prevent current issues such as obesity, and future health risks like high blood pressure, and diabetes. Here are a few must-have nutrients for growing children:
Vitamin A is crucial for vision and bone growth. It also helps in the quick repair of bones, muscles, and keeps infections at bay. A variety of foods like Colourful vegetables, for example, carrots, sweet potatoes, and green leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage are packed with vitamin A.
B vitamins are a family of eight water-soluble vitamins that are essential for the body’s various metabolic processes. Seafood, eggs, dairy products, nuts, whole grains, and legumes are packed with them.
Vitamin C helps form red blood cells and collagen, boosts the immune systems and keeps the body healthy. Citrus fruits such as orange, lime, kiwi, and vegetables such as broccoli, capsicum, and spinach are rich sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin D is produced by the body as a response to sunlight. It helps absorb minerals like calcium to build strong teeth and bones. Apart from some quality time under the sun, salmon, egg yolk, mushroom, and fortified milk are some of the best sources of vitamin D.
Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting the body from damage and microbes. It also stimulates blood circulation and is important for DNA repair and other metabolic processes. All kinds of nuts, sunflower seeds, and greens like spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of the vitamin.
Vitamin K plays an important role in the clotting of blood, preventing excessive bleeding. Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are rich sources of the vitamin.
2. Calcium: This mineral is crucial for building strong teeth and bones. It promotes healthy nerve and muscle function and also helps the blood to clot. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are some of the best sources of calcium and are included in the list of nutrients for children.
3. Iron: Another very important nutrient for kids is Iron. Iron is essential for making haemoglobin, which takes oxygen through the blood to all the cells. It can be found in a variety of foods such as red meat, poultry, lentils, spinach, and tofu.
4. Magnesium: This nutrient partners with calcium to help in blood clotting. It supports the immune system and teeth, bone growth. Food groups such as Nuts, legumes, spinach, banana, and kiwi are all great sources of magnesium.
5. Zinc: It aids digestion and metabolism. Foods rich in this mineral include red meat, nuts, beans, and mushrooms.
6. Potassium: It helps maintain body pressure and helps muscles and the nervous system to function properly. Tomato, prunes, bananas, spinach, nuts, and seeds are good food sources.
7. Essential Fatty Acids or EFA: It helps build cells and absorbs nutrients. It regulates the nervous system and strengthens the cardiovascular system. EFA includes Omega-3 & Omega-6, which help lower cholesterol, and reduces inflammation. Chia seeds, flax seeds, salmon, spinach, and tofu are food sources high in EFAs.
8. Protein: It is vital for building, maintaining, and repairing tissues in the body. Meat, legumes, beans, and nuts are some important sources of protein for the body. You can also whip up a quick fruit juice with all your favourite fruits to make it fun for the child to eat.
9. Fiber: It helps with digestion and keeps sugar levels in control. Beans, legumes, whole fruits, and vegetables are rich sources of fiber.
10. Probiotics: Probiotics are not really nutrients but are live bacteria that help replenish keep the gut healthy. Adding probiotics such as yogurt to children’s diets can help improve digestive health and prevent infections.
11. Antioxidants: Antioxidants like ALA and glutathione play an important role in brain, vision, growth and development. Avocados, spinach, and okra are some vegetables rich in the antioxidant glutathione.
12. Lutein: Lutein is a part of the group carotenoid and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. It also contributes heavily to healthy eye function. The main natural source of Lutein is green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, lettuce, celery, and orange or yellow vegetables like corn and squash. Egg yolk too is a good source of Lutein. However, it can be tough to get the right amount of lutein from food, hence, a supplement for children in the form of gummies is a great idea. They taste delicious and give all the necessary ingredients to your child.
Children who are physically active require a higher proportion of food groups that consist of condiments that are not only healthy but are also fun for the children to eat. Plan out a balanced diet according to the child’s needs and wishes so that you do not have to fight him or her to complete their meals.
Figuring out what nutrients do children need that help provide balanced nutrition is often challenging for parents and caregivers. Besides, children can be fussy eaters and it is a part of growing up. Their appetite and food choices can change frequently causing distress to adults. In such cases, health supplements might be included in the plans to include essential nutrients for children’s growth as an efficient way to avoid the risk of deficiencies.