I remember my fear when I was about to introduce my baby to solids. How do I know if he is getting the right nutrients? In the right proportion. Making sure our kids get the right nutrition is important to their overall physical and mental development.
To ensure a balanced diet for kids, here are some things we need to know!
The right dose of proteins builds, maintains and repairs muscle tissues.
This helps with digestion and healthy bowel function. Omega-3, omega-6 and fatty acids have a lot of benefits.
This provide kids with all the energy they need to get through their day’s activities. With school work, exercises, sports, homework, and extracurricular activities.
Here are some examples of:
|Foods high in protein
|Foods high in fiber
|Foods high in healthy carbohydrates
|Foods high in healthy fats
Table source: Apt Africa
Understanding the vitamin Alphabets
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally present in a lot of foods. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly. There are two types of vitamin A. The preformed vitamin A found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products and the provitamin A found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products like carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, broccoli, and mangoes
Vitamin B is a group of essential vitamins. This group includes Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B7 and Vitamin B12. These vitamins improve the child’s metabolism and produce red blood cells. They are present in grains like wheat and oats, meat and fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, beans and green peas.
Vitamin C repairs red blood cells, bone and tissue, speeds up the healing of cuts and wounds, and improves the health of blood vessels and gums. Vitamin C is present in foods/fruits like Guavas, oranges, strawberries, pink grapefruit, cantaloupe and mangoes.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is important to build strong bones and healthy teeth. Vitamin D can be gotten freely from Sunshine but on very hot Sunny days, salmon, mackerel, egg yolk, yoghurt, orange juice, milk or cheese can be good alternatives to get the daily required dose of Vitamin D for kids.
Vitamin E prevents infections and boosts the body’s immune system in the fight against germs. It’s commonly found in nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds or peanuts.
Vitamin K helps the blood clot quickly when they hurt themselves. Eggs, meat, fish, liver, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are excellent sources of this vitamin.
Importance of Iron For Kids
Iron is undoubtedly one of the most important nutrients for kids. Low levels of iron in kids lead to feeling lethargic, low on energy, and in some cases anemic. Iron produces hemoglobin, which carries the required oxygen throughout the body and also aids brain development. Foods such as fish and red meat are most easily absorbed by a child’s growing body, so a healthy, balanced diet for kids should include at least one serving of meat or fish per day.
Let’s Talk About Zinc
Zinc helps kids grow. New data suggest that increasing the amount of this mineral may help children reach a healthy height and weight. Zinc is found in foods such as red meat, whole-grain breads, cereals, dried beans, and seafood. It is vital for normal growth and development of the reproductive organs and brain. Zinc deficiency has been linked to decreased growth, increased colds and infections, impaired memory, learning disabilities, and poor attention span.
To make sure that your child gets the correct amount of each nutritional type, it’s important to understand the six-layer food pyramid for kids above 1 year old. At least one element from each layer should be included in each meal to maintain a balanced diet for kids:
Now that we know the important foods, presenting them in creative ways can encourage them to eat more. Try fun shapes, creating characters with food, or simply arranging them properly.