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Important Nutrients for Children [An Ultimate Guide]

Important nutrients for children

We will be talking about the important nutrients or the basic nutrients that are required for proper growth of children. We will be also discussing the impacts of junk food on young ones. For growth some of the nutrients we will be talking about our iron, calcium and fibre.

Let us start first with fibre. As we all know that fibre helps in proper digestion of food and it also helps in preventing constipation promotes proper bowel movement. It also helps us to give Satiety.

Some very good sources of fibre are fruits ( along with their peel), vegetables, whole grains like whole wheat flour, Ragi, oats, Barley,  Jawar, pulses and legumes like rajma, chana, mung daal, etc. Apart from dry fruits, nuts and seeds are good sources of fibre as well. It is very important to note here that milk and milk products like shakes, curd, paneer, ice cream do not have fibre. Non vegetarian foods like meat, eggs, chicken, sausages, salami etc do not have fiber hence these things should be consumed along with a fruit or a vegetable or pulse to compensate for the fibre. To fulfil daily requirement of fiber a child should have one or two fruit, one bowl of salad plus 1 bowl of pulse and 3 chapatis in a day.

Next nutrient that we going to discuss is water. A lot of children are not able to drink lot of water because of which they might feel dehydrated or constipated. Sources of water apart from plain drinking water can be coconut water, lemonade, fruit juices, jal-jeera, juicy fruits, and cucumber etc.

How do we know that the child is drinking enough water? If he or she is urinating after every 4 to 6 hours that means the child is well hydrated. You can also see for chapped lips and dry skin to know if the child is the hydrated.

Next, we will discuss calcium. As parents we are always worried about our child’s calcium needs, as it is extremely important for bone and teeth health. In these growth years the major source of calcium being milk, curd, paneer, cheese, eggs, dry fruits and nuts. We must also look at alternate to milk and milk product as lot of children are allergic animal to milk and Milk products. In this case Soya comes out as a very good alternative. It has ample amount of calcium and protein. So, we can say that it is very close to animal milk in nutrients. Alternate source of calcium can be pulses millets, vegetables for example amaranth (chulai) Or beetle (paan) is a very good source of calcium.

Another thing that mothers should keep in mind is that milk should not be substituted for a meal as it may lead to nutrition deficiencies specially iron.

Now let’s talk about iron iron deficiency. It is the most common deficiency in children. It may lead to irritable behavior, fatigue, lack of interest, lethargy and pale skin color. You might feel that the child is not able to learn or he/she is not paying attention in the class, it could be because of iron deficiency or anemia. Good sources of iron can be green leafy vegetables, raisin, poha, jaggery, dates and Rajma or kidney beans. It is important here to say that lemon juice helps in increasing iron absorption. Few drops of lemon should be added to at lunch and dinner in Dal or salad or sabzi. It improves iron absorption from the meal itself. Avoid coffee, cold drink, chocolate, green tea etc after and before meal. It is advisable to keep a gap of 40 minutes.

Let’s talk about some basic health issues that children have. The most important is constipation. What can be the cause of constipation in children?

A diet which is low in fibre, second not drinking enough water, third drinking too much milk, junk food, refined flour-based food and last lack of activity. Anxiety over toilet training, wrestling to finish bowl movements, stress or emotional upset can also be some reasons. What are the symptoms of constipation?

Hard dry infrequent stool which are difficult and painful to pass can be a sign of constipation in young children. It is important to note that soft but infrequent stools are not a sign of constipation. When the child is not having plenty of fluids there is lack of water and the stool becomes hard and difficult to pass. As discussed earlier you can add vegetable juice, fruit juices, nimbu pani, jaljeera and coconut water in the diet so that the child is able to pass motion easily.

Fiber is another important nutrient. Apart from adding fruits and vegetable include pulses, cereal bars, nuts and seeds. They will also help to increase total fibre intake. Too much intake of refined flowers and sugar may also lead to constipation. Junk food which includes bakery items like cakes, biscuits, rusk etc should be avoided or given only once a week. Avoid giving pasta, noodles, pizza, burger, Samosa specially when child is having difficulty. Fruit juices or vegetable juices should be made fresh at home.

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