Childhood is the most important stage of development in one’s life in terms of the growth one can attain. The foundation of the body is mostly laid during this time. What children eat decides how they will grow up to be.
Starting from the development of bones and teeth to the honing of the power of vision, to brain development to the determination of the quality of skin and hair to the maintenance of the health of the nervous and circulatory system - everything needs a good start to weigh the burden of the upcoming years of life.
While the importance of a balanced diet in helping us achieve that is not alien to any of us, it does not make much sense to the kids. What doesn’t interest their palette is not good food. Most parents, while catering to their picky eaters, leave out some important elements, especially vitamins and minerals, their kids need to grow.
Here are a few essential vitamins that you must make sure to incorporate into your child’s diet.
Vitamin D works in coordination with calcium by absorbing it from the body and works toward building strong and sturdy bones. While our calcium requirements are easily quenched by our diet, the vitamin D quantity often seems to be inadequate. Vitamin D is produced as a result of the exposure of our skin to the sun.
However, kids usually do not spend enough time outdoors. This results in a chronic deficiency of vitamin D which can later show up in the form of rickets, osteoporosis, fragile and painful bones, and other bone-related illnesses.
To save your child from the perils, it is recommended to supplement their diet with vitamin D. This supplement will ensure that they get their daily dose of 600IU of vitamin D. Along with these supplements, do not forget to help your child consume foods naturally rich in vitamin D like salmon, eggs, sardines, liver, cereals, and milk fortified with vitamin D.
Vitamin C is another important nutrient that your kid must consume at adequate levels. An incredible antioxidant, vitamin C protects cellular components against the oxidative damage of free radicals. It works towards strengthening teeth and bones and also maintains the health of skin, connective tissue, and nervous tissue. Very often vitamin C is prescribed as a treatment for the common cold.
It is because that plays a significant role in corroborating the immune system and fighting off unwanted foreign bodies. Moreover, iron absorption is also one of its important functions. The deficiency of this particular vitamin in children leads to the development of diseases like scurvy along with other conditions like fragile bones, weak teeth, and inflamed gums.
Though citrus fruits serve as the richest source of vitamin C, it is always a good idea to furnish your child’s diet with additional vitamin C to ensure the intake of necessary amounts, i.e, 15-25 mg/day for children between 1 and 8 years of age.
Vitamin B12 is vital for the growth and development of the body. Therefore, it has to be copiously consumed during the growing years. Vitamin B12 plays several roles in our bodies- starting from metabolizing the ingested food into energy to the production of red blood cells to maintaining the health of the nervous system to the synthesis of nucleic acids(DNA and RNA).
Lower than required levels of vitamin B12 often reflects a slower growth rate, anaemia, and irritability in children. Common sources of vitamin B12 include fish, liver, egg, meat, milk, and other animal fruits. This implies that children with a vegetarian or vegan diet are at a greater risk of suffering from deficiency diseases related to vitamin B12. It becomes imperative to incorporate foods fortified with vitamin B12 into their diet for long-term health.
Vitamin A is the next big thing to add to your kid’s diet. In addition to maintaining good vision and eye health, vitamin A is essential for the development of skin, hair, and nails. It also acts as an antioxidant and prevents oxidative damage.
By producing cells responsible for immune response, like the B cells and T cells, vitamin A ensures a robust immune system. Spinach, carrots, green leafy vegetables, liver, egg, and milk are important sources of vitamin A. While children who take a wholesome diet might not experience vitamin A deficiency, picky eaters might need to be supplemented with the vitamin from external sources to meet their dietary needs.
Vitamin B1, which is present as thiamine in its metabolically active version is a crucial nutrient for your kid. It is water-soluble and performs several important functions. The small intestine is the site of thiamine absorption. It plays a central role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and the consequent production of ATP.
Talking about it in layman’s terms, vitamin B1 helps convert whatever your kid ingests into energy. Deficiency can occur due to improper diet and problems in absorption, regulation, and storage of the particular vitamin.
As a result, kids might develop symptoms like weakness, severe weight loss, reduced appetite, slow growth, muscle wasting, and heart failure. Some of the most common vitamin B1 deficiency disorders include BeriBeri and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. To save your little one from trouble, you must make sure that they take in the required amounts of vitamin B1 every day.
No child likes too much green on the plate. Their concern rests with taste and not with the benefits of the food they eat. Therefore, designing a diet that presents a perfect mixture of good taste and health benefits has always been a herculean task. Giving in to the tantrums of picky eaters would mean paving their way to deficiency disorders, chronic illnesses, weakness, and an unhealthy future.
Children not only require a wide array of vitamins but also adequate amounts of fibre and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and fluoride for proper growth and physiological functioning. With time, several solutions have come up to ease the burden of a healthy diet from parents' shoulders.
Several food supplements are taking the market by storm with salubrious formulations that children smack their lips after having. With such products, the future of the nutrition industry is looking forward to a big change. They are indeed proving, ‘ all that’s good for health doesn’t have to taste bad!’