Your growing child needs variety of macro and micro nutrients such as Protein, Carbohydrate, fat, mineral (Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc etc.) and vitamin (Vitamin A, B, C, D etc.) in requisite quantities for a healthy and well-rounded growth and development.
We have found that most children in India get requisite amount of Macro-nutrients such as carbohydrate and fat, however they are often found deficient in other macro and micro-nutrients such as proteins, minerals and vitamins. Proteins, vitamins and minerals are very important elements of the total nutritional requirement of your child.
Human body is incapable of producing most of the macro and micro-nutrients, therefore it has to be obtained from diet. Not all nutrients are available in all types of food, in fact composition of every food if different. Therefore to acquire all the nutrients required for your body you need to eat a combination of food products.
See below macro-nutrient composition of some of the most popular food products per 100 gram serving.
|Nuts & Seeds||Almonds, dried||100||607||19||19||3||54||40|
|Nuts & Seeds||Cashews, unsalted||100||560||17||29||1||46||40|
|Nuts & Seeds||Walnuts, English, raw||100||650||14||16||2||64||14|
|Beverages||Beer (4% alcohol)||100||48||–||2||–||–||–|
|Beverages||Gin, rum, vodka, whiskey (86 proof)||100||250||–||–||–||–||–|
|Beverages||Cola drinks, sweetened||100||40||–||11||–||–||–|
|Beverages||Coffee, black, unsweetened||100||1||–||0||–||–||–|
|Beverages||Tea, clear, unsweetened||100||2||–||0||–||–||–|
|Vegetables||Beans, green snap||100||20||1||5||1||–||–|
|Meat & Poultry||Lamb, chop, broiled||100||417||21||–||–||30||29|
|Meat & Poultry||Turkey, roasted||100||265||27||–||–||15||–|
|Oil & Fats||Oils|
|Oil & Fats||Cottonseed Oils||100||893||–||–||–||100||36|
|Oil & Fats||Olive Oils||100||893||–||–||–||100||21|
|Oil & Fats||Safflower, sunflower Oils|
|Oil & Fats||seed, walnut Oils||100||893||–||–||–||100||21|
|Dairy||Cows’ milk, whole||100||68||3||5||–||4||4|
|Dairy||Cows’ milk, skim||100||37||4||5||–||–||–|
|Dairy||Cheese, cottage, creamed||100||107||13||3||–||5||4|
|Poultry||Eggs, boiled, poached,or raw||100||150||12||–||–||12||10|
|Poultry||Scrambled, omelet, or fried||100||172||10||1||–||13||11|
|Poultry||Scrambled, omelet, Yolks only||100||353||18||–||–||29||24|
As it is evident from the above that to ensure sufficient serving of macro and micronutrient we need to take appropriate food product in requisite quantity. That is the reason why traditionally we combine various food products to ensure nutritional sufficiency.
As we know that human body cannot produce several vitamins, therefore it must be obtained from the food. In the early age deficiency of any nutrient could result into lack of growth or development disorders among children. Therefore kids should get a balanced diet composed of the following:
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
- Plenty of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables
- Proteins like chicken, fish, meat, and eggs
- Whole grains like wheat, rice and lentils
Why Kids May Need Vitamins and minerals Supplements?
Most of us are living a competitive and stressful life, trying to meet our ends. We are time pressed and therefore resort to superstores for buying our daily requirement of foods and at times buy the precooked, processed food products. These food products carry calories but lack sufficient micro-nutrients and our kids do not receive sufficient vitamins and minerals.
Our kids also need supplementation of vitamins and minerals as some of them are:
- Picky eaters and are unwilling to eat different types of vegetables and fruits; and/or
- Unwilling to eat variety of well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods; and/or
- Suffering from chronic food allergies with flatulence, stomach upset as common symptoms.
- Active athletes and need extra dosage of nutrients to support their active lifestyle
- Vegetarian and do not consume any poultry or meat. Suck kids are deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.
- Suffering from medical conditions such as asthma or digestive problems and are on medication. Such medication erodes nutrients from the body
- Suffering from development disorders such as Autism, ADHD
- Eating processed or fast food, which are full of preservatives, coloring agents and MSG. These additives erode nutrients from body.
- On dairy free or any other restricted diet
- Drink large amount of carbonated drinks, which is full of sugar and leaches vitamins and minerals from their bodies
Therefore, yes we should give our kids healthy, well-rounded diet but it is not always possible due to the reasons above. In such cases it is advisable to supplement kids with appropriate dosage of vitamins and minerals. As per our estimate only 10% of kids get ideal serving of fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat and must be supplemented.
Important Supplements for Children
Below are top 8 most important supplements for Children. These are a combination of Vitamins and Minerals for kids:
Multivitamins as the name suggests are dietary supplement with combination of minerals, vitamin and Sometimes these supplements are also known as multi-minerals or multi-vitamin-minerals. Multi-vitamins are available in the form of capsule, tablets, powder and liquid. For your kid you should prefer powder or liquid to ensure easy administration. A good quality multi-vitamin-mineral-Supplement is a great base for a step towards overall health and well being of a growing kid. Make sure that your Multi-Vitamin-Mineral-Supplement has full spectrum minerals and Vitamins and it does not contain Iron and Copper. Avoid Gummy and chewable multivitamins as they are high in sugar and contain much lesser vitamin and mineral content compared to standard multivitamins.
2. Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is a unique Vitamin as it cannot be obtained in sufficient quantity from the food we eat but from the Sunlight exposure on our skin. Another thing unique about Vitamin D is that it has to change its form several times in our body before it can be used. Your body converts Vitamin D to a hormone, which is called activated vitamin D or calcitriol. For a growing kid Vitamin D is extremely important as:
- It supports absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus, which are essential for developing the structure and strength of young bones and tooth
- It supports Brain Development
- It supports Immune system, which helps you to fight infection
- It supports muscle function
- It supports cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
- It supports respiratory system –for healthy lungs and airways
Our bones and teeth are primarily build with Calcium and therefore during early years Calcium is extremely important as your kid is growing in structure, building bones and teething. Calcium also plays a very important role in the functioning of muscles and nerves system and in the release of hormones and enzymes.
- Kids who do not get sufficient calcium and vitamin D are at
- increased risk for rickets (a bone-softening disease that causes severe bowing of the legs, poor growth, and sometimes muscle pain and weakness).
- increased risk of developing the bone disease osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures from weakened bones.
Zinc is an essential mineral and it is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is vital for the normal growth and development brain and reproductive organs. It also plays a role very important role in normal functioning of the immune system, protein synthesis, wound healing and proper sense of taste and smell. A daily intake of zinc is required to stay healthy as body does not have any store for zinc. Lack of Zinc may result into decreased growth, increased colds and infections, impaired memory, learning disabilities, and poor attention span. The deficiency is a major problem in developing countries; for instance, 70% of school age children in Thailand are deficient in zinc.
Magnesium is an essential mineral and often forgotten by practitioner as it is found in several green leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grain. However with the increasing time pressure lesser and lesser number of parents are cooking green leafy vegetables. Magnesium supports development of stronger bones, supports muscle and nerve function. It also helps kids to sleep well and have a calming effect on them. Low magnesium levels have also been linked to ADHD and hyperactivity.
6. Vitamin B Complex:
Vitamin B Complex of B Vitamins are a group of 9 Vitamins and they are essential for good health and growth of a young child. B Vitamins are water soluble and play a very important role in the healthy function of various organs and tissues in the body—including the heart, nerves, muscles , gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and endocrine system—and in the formation of red blood cells. B vitamins help regulate appetite and are necessary for proper growth, development, and metabolism.
7. Cod Liver Oil:
Cod liver oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cod Liver Oil is derived from liver of cod fish. Apart from EPA and DHA, Cod Liver Oil has high levels of natural vitamin A and vitamin D. EPA and DHA are called brain boosters and found in Cod Liver oil, eggs, dairy products, canola oil, flax seed and walnuts. Unless your child is eating three or more servings a week of fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna), he is most likely need Cod Liver oil. EPA and DHA, the omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil, are critical for development and healthy function of the eyes and brain. EPA and DHA also reduce the risk of aggression, depression, and ADHD in kids.
Iodine is a very important mineral and that why government keeps requesting everyone to take iodised salt. However the biggest issue today is that due to stress and every increasing pollution our requirement of Iodine is much higher then what is prescribed. Iodine is extremely essential to good health and growth as it is the key component of thyroid hormones, which regulate growth and energy metabolism. Iodine is also extremely important for the healthy development of the brain and mental function in babies and children. Needless to say lack of Iodine may result in intellectual disability in children.