9 Made Simple Categories Of Must-Eat Nutrients For Your Child

Parents want their child to have a great start in life and one way to achieving that is by giving these little ones nutrient packed foods. If you are not sure your child is getting his daily dose of balanced meals, check out our list of must-eat nutrients.

Here are the nine nutrients that every child should be getting on a daily basis:

1. Proteins

Human body functions and structure depend on protein to develop. Due to the demands of growth and development, getting adequate protein is especially important during infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Proteins are made up of amino acids that function as hormones, enzymes, and transporters of other nutrients. Protein rich foods to include in your child’s meal include the following:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Milk/soy milk
  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Beans
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts

READ ALSO: 10 Essential Nutrients Your Child Needs & Their Food Sources

2. Carbohydrates

While everybody these days seem to advocate for “cutting down on carbs”, it is important to establish that carbohydrates are the body’s most important source of energy supply and are a necessary part of a healthy meal for kids and adults.

Once broken down in the body, carbohydrates become simple sugars that circulate in the bloodstream and are used up by body cells for energy. The brain uses a good part of that energy to function properly.

Here a few examples of carbohydrates:

  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Yam
  • Potatoes

3. Fats

Besides energy supplied to the body from carbohydrates, fats play an equally essential role as fuel for body operations. Fats are stored in the body for absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamins, A, D, E and K. Examples of fat rich foods to give your child include:

  • Cooking oils
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Avocados

4. Calcium

Your child’s body requires calcium to grow strong, healthy bones and teeth. This mineral is essential for the growth and development of children and is stored in the bones and teeth. Calcium is commonly found in food, particularly dairy foods.

It is important for children to have meals fortified with this nutrient since bone calcium begins to decrease in young adulthood and progressive bone loss can occur as we age.

Calcium rich foods include:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Egg yolk
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli

READ ALSO: 5 Practical Reasons To Make Your Own Baby Food

5. Iron

Iron helps to move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Foods that contain high levels of iron include:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Liver
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Iron-fortified cereals

6. Folate

More commonly known as folic acid, folate is crucial for a healthy pregnancy and is also important for kids. It is a type of  B vitamin that plays specific and major role in cell growth. A deficiency in folate can cause anaemia. Foods that contain high levels of folate include:

  • Spinach
  • Black or kidney beans
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Asparagus

7. Fibre

Fibre helps promote a healthy digestive system and brings about bowel regularity in a child. It can also help to lower the chances of heart disease and cancer later in life. Foods that contain high levels of fiber include:

  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Seeds
  • Nuts

READ ALSO: Healthy Mum, Healthy Baby! 10 Nutrients Expectant Mums Really Need & Their Food Sources

8. Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) besides its antioxidant properties helps children fight infections and build a strong immunity. Vitamin C helps also to heal body wounds and plays key role in building strong bones and teeth.

Foods rich in vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits (e.g. oranges, tangerines)
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Pawpaw
  • Mangoes
  • Cabbage
  • Melons
  • Strawberry

9. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is well known for its role in the development of vision. But it is also key in the development of bones as well as aiding the health and growth of cells and tissues in the body, particularly those in the hair, nails, and skin. Foods that contain high levels of Vitamin A include:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Fish oils
  • Egg yolks

How much of these nutrients does your child require daily for optimum growth? Check this nutritional goals dietary guideline from the United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA) for 2015-2020.

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