These are the nutrients your child needs for healthy growth
Good nutrition is extremely important for the development of children, especially in the earliest years. In fact, according to WHO, “optimal nutrition and correction of nutritional deficiencies during the early years are of particular significance” since after two years of age, there is very little chance of reversal. For growth and development to happen properly, children need to consume the right amount of macronutrients like fat, protein, fat, and carbohydrates and micronutrients like vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc.
If you want to fuel your little one’s growth, you must never forget the importance of essential nutrients in his food. Here’s what you need to know about them:
Essential nutrients needed for growth
The following are the most important nutrients that ensure healthy growth in babies and children.
- Carbohydrates: We all know how important carbohydrates are for our body as they are a rich source of energy, which is required to support a baby’s growth, as he gradually becomes a toddler and then a teenager.
- Protein: This is required for building the body’s cells and tissues. They also help in optimum growth and muscle formation in a growing baby.
- Fats: These are a great powerhouse of energy. They help to build nerve tissues and prevent loss of body heat. DHA, an essential fatty acid, plays an important role in the development of brain and vision in a baby.
- Vitamins: These are very important nutrients for the overall growth in a baby. Vitamin B1, B2, B12, niacin, and folic acid help to convert the food into energy and also contribute to building hormones and red blood cells. Vitamin D develops bones and teeth, and helps in calcium absorption. Vitamin D is synthesized in the body with the help of sunlight only, so it is very important for kids to regularly get exposed to sunlight for some time. Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron in the body and also in the repair and maintenance of bones and teeth.
- Calcium: This helps in the growth and development of bones and also builds muscle strength.
- Iodine: Iodine ensures the proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
Nutrients and blood formation
We all know that blood is one of the most important constituents of the body as it helps to transport oxygen, nutrients, and other substances throughout the body. Blood components include red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. To maintain proper blood flow in the human body, adequate nutrition is very important.
Foods that increase blood flow in the body
- Iron: It is one of the most important nutrients required for the formation of red blood cells. It is also required for the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. So, it is very important to give your child an iron-rich diet. Some of the sources of iron in food are green leafy vegetables like spinach, sprouts, and iron-fortified food items.
- Vitamin C: This nutrient helps in absorbing iron from the food your child eats. This iron reaches the bloodstream directly. So, your toddler’s diet should contain foods that are rich in Vitamin C. For example, lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C. While serving food to your child, a few drops of lemon juice can be added to enhance the taste and also provide Vitamin C to the body.
- B-complex vitamins: Vitamin B2, B6, Folic acid, and B12 are the B-complex vitamins. They help in the synthesis of red blood cells.
Low levels of red blood cells in children can result in anemia, which is a common nutritional deficiency, caused due to the inadequate supply of the nutrients mentioned above. Some of the common symptoms of anemia in children are pale skin, lips, and nailbeds.
As a parent, you must ensure that your child eats a balanced meal that provides all these nutrient-rich foods that increase blood in the body.
Food for brain power
Here are a few essential nutrients, which are important to improve your child’s brain health:
- Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids help in better hand-eye coordination in a child. It improves his overall cognitive development too.
- B-complex vitamins: Folic acid is an essential nutrient for the proper functioning and development of brain tissues. Vitamin B12 supports gross motor functioning. Its deficiency leads to a delay in gross motor and language development in a child. Choline is present in the brain cell membrane and greatly impacts memory development.
- Memory enhancers: There are many foods that improve memory and concentration in our body. Iron and zinc, for example, can improve a child’s attention power. Iodine plays an important role in the intellectual development of a child and increases their IQ levels. Iodine deficiency can lead to mental retardation and speech and hearing disabilities.
Ensuring a balanced diet for your child is vital for his growth and development. To fill the nutrient gaps in your child’s diet, make sure that you include as many nutrient-dense fortified foods as you can.