It can seem overwhelming to think of all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients kids need to be healthy. Harder yet is making sure your picky kid not only gets them in every meal but eats them as well! While our children might seem to be eating healthy, shockingly, it has been reported that up to 99% of some age groups are low on one or more of these vital nutrients. As you read, you will see that there are some easy and delicious foods you can add to meals to ensure your child is getting what he or she needs.
Vitamin E is necessary in our kids’ diets because it is an important antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from being damaged by oxidation caused by free radicals. It can prevent many long-term diseases, and it’s great for the immune system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an information which shows how much Vitamin E your child should be getting based on his or her age. You can make sure to get Vitamin E in your child’s meals by serving nuts, green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, peanut butter, avocado, tomato sauces, and fortified cereals.
Iron is necessary for hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the rest of your child’s body. Not only is it important for body function, but an iron deficiency can lead to a greater chance of lead poisoning. Lack of iron can cause the body to absorb the lead more readily. Baby formula is usually fortified with iron for good reason. Iron can also be found in meats, dark leafy greens, raisins, and iron-fortified breads, cereal, and pasta. At times, your child may need even more iron than is recommended. Young athletes, children who are experiencing rapid growth, are teen girls experiencing menstruation might need an extra dose of iron. Check with your doctor to make sure they are getting enough.
Fiber may not be the first thing you think of when you think of your children’s nutrient needs. Fiber is great for aiding digestion and keeping your kid regular. Not only that, but it’s great for long-term health, lowering cholesterol and preventing diabetes. You can make sure your child gets what he or she needs by adding fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, almonds, and beans to their meals.
Make sure your nutrition meals consist of potassium. Potassium is a very beneficial mineral found in bananas, oranges, milk, yogurt, potatoes, and prunes. It helps stabilize water in their growing body and offsets dehydration. Your kids’ bodies need potassium to help their muscles move and nerves to work. Your child needs anywhere from 400mg/day to 4,700mg/day depending on their age.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that we need to keep our kids’ bone health in mind while they are constantly growing. Not only is calcium necessary for strong bones, but it also assists muscles and nerves, and it helps the body deliver enzymes and hormones necessary for proper body function. Children 1 to 3 years old should be getting 700mg of calcium daily. 4 to 8-year-olds need 1,000mg a day, and 9-18-year-olds need 1,300mg. Milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified cereals and orange juice, beans, broccoli, and even ice cream are great sources of calcium.
Many of the foods your child already knows and loves contain many of the vital vitamins and minerals necessary for their health. Keep in mind these 5 specifically, and make sure to provide the foods that contain them in every meal. A happy, healthy child will be your reward.