Getting your child to eat can be a challenge. Making sure they receive proper nutrition is essential.
As always, if you have urgent concerns about your child’s nutritional needs, visit your health care provider for expert advice. That said, here’s a short list of essential nutrients for your child.
Calcium builds bones and teeth. It also helps promote healthy nerve and muscle function. As your child grows, she’ll need plenty of calcium. The best sources include dairy products, salmon, and leafy greens.
While not a vitamin or mineral, many high fiber foods are packed with them. Fiber keeps your child’s digestive tract healthy and a healthy tract will more readily absorb nutrients. High fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin because sunlight triggers a synthesis within the body that creates this vitamin. Sadly, many children do not receive enough to generate adequate vitamin D, especially during the winter months. This is why it’s important to consume foods fortified with this essential vitamin.
Vitamin D helps build strong bones. It may also help protect against some diseases. Good sources include salmon, sardines, egg yolks, and dairy products.
B vitamins support metabolism as well as a healthy heart and nervous system. The most important B vitamin is B12 which is generally available in animal based foods like meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. Most children consume plenty of B12, but if your child is a vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to provide a supplemental source of this nutrient.
Your child’s immune system needs Vitamin E as does her blood vessels. Good sources include sunflower oil, nuts and seeds. Almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds are particularly child-friendly sources.
Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your child’s entire body because it helps make hemoglobin. It also helps make myoglobin which helps store oxygen in muscles. It’s an incredibly important part of your nutritional needs because if your child doesn’t get enough, they can suffer from anemia. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, irritability, and weakness. Sources include red meats, green leafy vegetables, and beans such as navy, soy, lima, and kidney.
You’ll help keep your child’s bones strong, heart rhythm healthy, you’ll support their immune system, and help maintain muscle and nerve function when you feed them foods rich in magnesium. Good sources include whole grains, nuts, soy, beans, low fat dairy, and dried fruit.
Your child needs Zinc because over 70 enzymes that aid your child’s digestion and metabolism need it. Zinc also helps your child’s growth patterns. The best sources include beans, lean red meat, nuts, yogurt, soy products, and whole grains.
As you can see, great nutrition for your child isn’t difficult to achieve. Just be sure to include lean meats, dairy, beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and a sprinkling of nuts and seeds. Do this and you’ll have the vast majority of your bases covered.