In recent times particularly with this current COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of proper nutrition on health, immune system, anxiety, stress, and so on have never been more discussed. Our kids are not left out. Did you know that good nutrition is crucial to your child’s physical and mental development?
As parents or guardians, we want what’s best for our kids and wards. We hate watching them suffer from allergies, ailments, infections, depression, mood swings, and so on. But, the idea of putting children on prescription medications all the time worries me. The side effects can be terrifying which includes physiological and biological imbalances like the disruption of the gut microbiome, anxiety, allergies, and more.
Obviously, when these health conditions occur, one should always consult with the doctor for advice. However, incorporating micronutrients into your child’s diet will improve his overall health and wellbeing. This can be achieved in a safe and natural way with diet and lifestyle modifications.
So, I am going to share some vitamins and minerals that can boost your child’s health and how to ensure that he/she gets enough of them.
- Vitamins B9 and B12
There are a total of eight different B vitamins and each one performs a vital role in the body. The B vitamins are important for metabolism, energy, and a healthy heart and nervous system. One of the most important B vitamins is B12.
It is important to mention that Vitamins B9 and B12 can have a direct impact on your mood. Folate (B9) deficiency has been directly linked to depression, while B12 deficiency can cause things like fatigue and mood swings. You can help your child cope with stress and reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood swings by increasing their intake of B vitamins.
Foods Sources For B Vitamins:
Vitamin B12 comes mainly from animal-based foods, like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. So, kids following vegetarian/vegan kids may not have enough B vitamins. In order to bridge this gap, Dietitians advise looking for fortified foods that are high in B12. Check food labels for the content of Cyanocobalamin, the active form of vitamin B12.
Though fiber isn’t a vitamin or mineral, foods that are high in fiber also tend to be packed with many important nutrients, like vitamin E, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Although kids are much smaller than adults, their bodies also need just about as much fiber as grown-ups in order to maintain a healthy digestive system, Giancoli says. “A 4-8-year-old, who may be eating about 1,500 calories a day, needs 25 grams of fiber a day, and that’s about what I eat.” So toddlers, who generally eat a bit less than older kids, probably need around 18 grams of fiber a day.
Food Sources: Foods high in fiber include berries, avocados, whole grains and cereals, almost any kind of bean, pap, rice, potatoes. Beans are also high in protein and nutrients like vitamin A and potassium.
“Calcium is the essential building block of bones and teeth,” says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The more bone your child builds now, the more reserves she’ll have when bone loss begins in later years.
Foods Sources: Dairy products, fortified foods, fish and dark green leafy vegetables, milk, liver, shrimps, egg, chicken feet, beans, nuts, and seeds like sesame seeds, pawpaw, orange, etc.
Magnesium is a mineral that influences many critical body functions, including regulating the blood sugar and proper nerve function. It may also have a direct impact on mood because it affects neuronal cell membrane fluidity. If your child suffers from insomnia, giving them a magnesium supplement before bed may also help them fall asleep more easily and sleep through the night.
Food sources: cashew nuts, potatoes, almonds, bananas, beans, spinach.
Probiotics are living, healthy microorganisms and bacteria that play a key role in digestive health. They come from fermented foods. A healthy gut is crucial for overall health, including mental health.
Food sources: locust beans, yogurt, pap, kunu, cheese, etc.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D works with calcium to build strong bones. It may also help protect against chronic disease later in life.
Food Sources: Some fish, including salmon, mackerel, sardines, tilapia, mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D, eggs (D is found in the yolk) and fortified milk. Vegetarian and vegan families should look for fortified cereals high in D. The Nutrition Association recommends vitamin D supplements for all kids, unless they’re getting 400 IU from their diet.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E strengthens the body’s immune system. It also helps keep blood vessels clear and flowing well.
Food sources: Vegetable oils such as sunflower, olive oil, palm oil, nuts and seeds, carrots, sweet potato, leafy greens.
Ensure That Your Child Is Getting Enough Nutrients. Nothing can take the place of eating a healthy diet. To ensure that your child is getting the right nutrients for growth and development, he or she should be eating a wide variety of whole foods each day.
But, let’s face it. A lot of kids are picky eaters and getting them to eat a variety of foods can be a challenge, to say the least. To address this, you can introduce organic supplements to their routine. Check with your doctor first. Choose a formula that has been created especially for kids because their nutritional needs are much different from adults.
Prolonged picky eating could lead to nutrient deficiencies over time that may be your child’s health and in later years. But changing your child’s nutrition would promote optimal physical and mental health and as well boost the immune system. This will ensure the quality of life needed for them to thrive.
How do you incorporate vitamins and minerals into your child’s daily routine?
Watch out for the next post.
Written by Abimbola Olu-Sholanke.
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