Your child needs plenty essential nutrients to help him grow properly. A poor diet builds a poor foundation that may affect him in later life.
Help Them Build A Strong Foundation
Children will have different nutritional requirements in different stages of their lives. Babies will be very content and happy with breast milk which supplies them with all the nutrients their little bodies need.
Young children will need nutrition that help them in proper brain and physical development. Pre-teens and teenagers who are now exposed to unhealthy eating will need proper nutrition to help them grow and to deal with raging hormones.
In order to benefit most from a nutrition, we will need to watch what they are eating and to eliminate the harmful foods. Refer to the harmful foods list which I have compiled. They are harmful for adults, and even more harmful for children. This is only a very small list but you get the idea.
A child’s nutritional needs are much greater than those of an adult because of their rapid growth and development. A poor diet will build a poor physical foundation in the child that can be long lasting.
Here’s a short list of essential nutrients your child definitely needs while growing up, and the best food sources. Whether your child should eat meat or not is a personal choice that you will have to make. If you decide to give them meat, then go for organic meat as much as possible. The list below leans more towards “almost vegetarian”. Check if your child is already taking most of these. The more of these they are taking, the better:
Protein: Protein is necessary for growth. If given a wide variety of proper food, children will usually have sufficient protein. Best sources: eggs, beans, cereals/grains, fish, yogurt, seeds and nuts.
Vitamin A: The best source of vitamin A is from carrots which are rich in precursor vitamin A in the form of beta carotene which will convert to vitamin A only when needed, preventing overdose. Other sources: asparagus, broccoli, cantaloupe, fresh apricots, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
Vitamin B6: Processing of foods can result in considerable loss of vitamin B6. Good sources of this vitamin are from: avocados, bananas, brewer’s yeast, carrots, eggs, fish, peas, spinach, sunflower seeds, walnuts and wheat germ.
Vitamin B12: This vitamin is made by micro-organisms and is found mostly in animal meat. If your child eat meat, he would most likely meet the B12 requirement. Non-meat sources of vitamin B12 can be derived from some low-salt yeast extract, chlorella or spirulina.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant. Your child’s body cannot store the vitamin, so you need to supply it regularly through food sources like: all berries, broccoli, citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes, and leafy greens like spinach.
Calcium: Your growing child needs calcium for strong bones, but milk shouldn’t be your main source of calcium. Excellent vegetable sources of calcium include: broccoli, green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard and turnip greens, cabbage, cauliflower, egg yolks, beans, lentils, nuts and sesame seeds.
Folate: Folate/Folic acid is necessary for production of normal red blood cells and division of cells. This is critically important for producing new cells: blood cells, skin cells, hair cells, bone cells, etc. Good food sources: brewer’s yeast, asparagus, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, oranges, root vegetables and legumes.
Iron: Your growing child needs iron to produce hemoglobin. Teenage girls particularly need to pay attention to their iron intake as it can easily be depleted each month following menstruation. Avoid cereals that are very high in fiber as they may prevent iron absorption. Instead, take iron sources with vitamin C that helps increase absorption. Some good food sources for iron: asparagus, eggs, fruits, fish, green leafy vegetables, prunes, raisins and whole grains.
Magnesium: Our body doesn’t absorb magnesium well but yet it is needed by the body as a co-factor in our enzymatic reactions for metabolic activities. The richest sources of magnesium are: whole seeds, wheat germ and unprocessed grains. Other food sources include: green vegetables like spinach, spirulina and chlorella.
Zinc: Your child needs zinc for proper growth of skin, hair and nails. It also acts as a detoxifier, removing excess carbon dioxide from the body. A deficient level of zinc may trigger the development of anorexia nervosa. Some food sources of zinc: seafood, wheat germ, eggs, whole grains, carrots, peas, bran, oatmeal and nuts.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA): EFAs are fats that your child needs for proper growth, particularly in neural development and maturation of sensory systems. that our body cannot make and must be obtained from dietary. Some excellent sources of omega 3 and 6: flaxseed oil (highest), walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, avocados, canola oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines. And in smaller amounts: kale, spinach, mustard greens, collards.
This is just a short list but may seem overwhelming. To make it easier, just remember to give your child a wide variety of fruits and vegetables which are best sources of most of the above essential vitamins and minerals. They can be given in the form of juices. Also add whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds in their diet. These should put your child on the solid road to a healthy development.