It is common knowledge that without blood, life would come to a standstill. After all, it is the blood that carries oxygen to all the cells and vital organs of your body. Blood is one of the most important connective tissues in your child’s body. When it comes to the composition of blood, it contains three major types of cells — RBCs (Red Blood Cells), WBCs (White Blood Cells), and platelets. While WBCs help fight infection, RBCs carry oxygen from your lungs to the tissues throughout your body, and platelets clump together to form blood clots to heal injuries. In this article, we will talk about the key nutrients needed for ensuring proper blood formation in children, and how you can incorporate them in a balanced diet.
Why do you need nutrients for blood production?
The importance of blood cannot be stressed enough as it is the reason why all your organs get consistent oxygen supply and can function properly. So, there are quite a few nutrients that your child needs regularly to create the right amount of blood in his or her body. Now, RBCs are blood components that should be taken good care of. They survive in your kid’s body for just four months, and so, the body needs to keep creating new ones to replace the aged and dying cells. Your child’s body can do this more easily when you provide certain vitamins and minerals that play an important role in RBC production.
As far as growing children are concerned, late childhood and late adolescence are issues that crop up when the RBC production is not sufficient. Adolescent girls need more blood to compensate for losses due to menstruation, while boys need more blood for adequate muscle growth.
Nutrients needed for blood production
Here are some of the important nutrients that are needed:
One of the most important nutrients for adequate production of RBCs is Iron. Lack of iron can lead to low production of RBCs and cause anaemia. Here are some of the common sources of iron-rich foods:
Dark green leafy vegetables — Spinach and Cabbage
You can use popular recipes like palak paneer and aloo palak to give your child their daily fix of iron. You can also prepare a nice cream of spinach or cabbage soup for light dinners.
Dried fruits like raisins and dates
Raisins can serve as a great mid-day snack. You can also add these to halwas or your child’s morning cereal.
Beans and legumes
Common recipes like rajma and chana make for filling and simple lunches. Incorporating daal into at least one meal a day is essential.
Try to include whole eggs in your child’s diet as often as you can. They can be scrambled, boiled, fried, or made into omelettes. This is because egg yolk is an excellent source of iron.
Folic Acid or vitamin B-9 is another important nutrient for RBC production. Beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, cabbage) are all good sources of folic acid.
Vitamin B-12 is another important nutrient when it comes to RBC production. Some of the best sources of vitamin B-12 are eggs, fish, and dairy products.
Vitamin A is a nutrient that doesn’t directly contribute to RBC production, but helps RBCs access the iron in foods. Here are some well-known sources of vitamin A:
Dark, leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and cabbage
You can try some simple preparations of spinach and cabbage, by adding them to smoothies and salads.
Sweet potato is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, and it comes in many tasty avatars. You can simply bake a sweet potato with some butter and salt for a delicious snack. You can also make sweet potato chaat, a sure favourite with the kids.
Carrots are one of the best sources of vitamin A, and they can be consumed in so many different ways. You can add them to salads, make carrot soup, or prepare the ever-popular gajar ka halwa.
Fruits — watermelons, grapefruit, and papaya
Including watermelons and grapefruits in your child’s breakfast is a must, for a good dose of vitamin A. Watermelon is versatile too, as you can prepare a variety of dishes, from watermelon sorbet to watermelon feta salad.
Always try to make sure that your child gets the nutrition he or she needs from natural food sources. In case, you feel, they are not getting the above vital nutrients, you can consult your child’s paediatrician about adding certain supplements.