Like carbohydrates, proteins and fats, vitamins are essential nutrients that your child needs to derive from the foods he eats. Kids need them for proper growth, development and the smooth functioning of various vital organs. Each vitamin has a specific and important role to play too. For example, vitamin D present in milk keeps your child’s bones strong. Vitamin A in carrots helps enhance vision at night, and vitamin C in oranges helps the body to heal and repair itself. B vitamins present in whole grains give energy. The two kinds of vitamins you will come across are fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.
Fat-Soluble Vitamins Facts
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fatty tissues and liver. When you eat fat-soluble vitamin foods, they are stored in the body fat until the body needs them. These can be stored even up to 6 months. When they are needed by the body, special carriers take them to the respective parts. Vitamins A, E, D and K are fat soluble-vitamins.
Water-soluble vitamins facts
Water soluble vitamins do not get stored in the body as much as fat-soluble ones. When you eat water-soluble vitamin foods, they travel through the bloodstream and get excreted when you pass urine. So, these are the vitamins that have to be replaced by regularly eating water-soluble vitamin foods. Vitamin C and B vitamins like B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), folic acid, niacin, biotin and pantothenic acid, are all water-soluble vitamins.
List of Growth Enhancer Vitamins
This vitamin predominantly helps in vision, especially at night. Vitamin A helps your kid see colours too, from the brightest shade of yellow to the darkest of purple. It also helps in boosting your kid’s immune system. Fat-soluble vitamin foods for kids are fortified milk, liver, orange-coloured fruits and vegetables (like carrots, sweet potatoes) and dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach). As per ICMR 2010, RDA of vitamin A for children is 400-600 mg per day retinol and 3200-4800 mg per day of beta carotene.
Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, biotin and pantothenic acid together make up the B vitamins group. They are important contributors to the body’s metabolism, i.e., they help the body produce energy and release it when needed. They are also needed to make red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body, without which, the body cannot function. Foods which are rich in this vitamin group are whole grains such as wheat and oats, poultry and meats, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products like milk and yogurt, beans and peas, and leafy green vegetables. According to ICMR 2010, RDA of thiamin and riboflavin ranges from 0.7 to 1 mg per day, for niacin, 11 to 15 mg per day, and for pyridoxine, 0.9 to 1.6 mg per day.
Vitamin C is essential for maintaining body tissues like gums, bones and blood vessels. It also helps in healing and recovery if your kid is wounded. Vitamin C also boosts your child’s immunity, so that he doesn’t catch infections easily. Foods rich in vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, and red peppers. As per ICMR 2010, RDA of vitamin C is 40 mg per day for children.
Vitamin D is mainly needed to keep your bones and teeth strong. It also helps in absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is either made in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight or absorbed from the foods that your child eats. Foods rich in vitamin D are fortified milk and cereal, fish, egg yolks and liver. RDA for children is 5 mcg per day, according to ICMR 2010.
Vitamin E protects cells and tissues from any damage. It is also required to maintain the health of red blood cells. Foods rich in vitamin E are whole grains, such as wheat and oats, wheat germ, vegetable oils like sunflower, canola, and olive oil, leafy green vegetables, egg yolks, seeds and nuts. RDA for vitamin E is 15 mg per day, as per ICMR 2010.
Clotting takes place when certain cells in your blood coagulate, act like glue, and adhere to the wound’s surface, to stop further bleeding. And vitamin K is essential for this process. Foods rich in vitamin K are leafy green vegetables, dairy products like milk and yogurt, broccoli, and soybean oil. According to ICMR 2010, RDA for children is 80 mcg per day. Vitamins help the body to carry out many important processes as mentioned above. As your child’s body cannot produce all these vitamins naturally, they must be obtained from food. The more variety of foods that your kids eat, the more vitamins they get. Though some kids take daily vitamin supplements, these are unnecessary if they eat a variety of foods. However, growing kids sometimes do not get enough vitamins A, C, and D because of their eating behaviours. That is why supplements are often recommended by doctors for kids aged between 6 months and 5 years.