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Proper Nutrition for Children's Growth & Development – Are They Getting Enough?

September 7, 2015


Proper nutrition and vitamins are essential to your children’s growth and development. But are they getting enough? According to Health Canada, many of us aren’t – and 86% of children between 1 and 3 years old consume less than the Estimated Average Requirement of Vitamin D. Additionally, the average child takes in less than the Adequate Intake level of fibre and potassium. 

Nutrient requirements vary with age. A toddler needs about 500 mg of calcium every day , 13 mg of Vitamin C, 0.4 mg of B6, 5 mg of niacin, 210 ug of Vitamin A, and 10 ug of Vitamin D. That is all to make sure that they grow healthy bones and organs, keep their immune systems in peak form, and develop their brains. Children between 4 and 8 years old need more: about 800 mg of calcium, 22 mg of Vitamin C, 0.5 mg of niacin, and 275 ug of Vitamin A. The requirements go up again when a child turns 9. There are children who require more because they have restricted diets or are particularly active. Children, unfortunately, can give themselves restricted diets- they are notorious for finicky eating habits. Fortunately, you are not alone in thinking of ways to meet your child's nutritional needs.

According to Health Canada, there are some simple (though not necessarily easy) ways to make sure children get adequate nutrition. They recommend serve small meals and snacks throughout the day. Canada’s Food Guide lists sample servings that you can break into small helpings and served throughout the day. You don’t have to worry about the fat content of nutritious foods so long as you offer them a variety of things from the 4 food groups for each of these servings. Children have small stomachs, so you have to trust them to eat as much as they want at one sitting and not force them to eat everything in front of them. It is also important to offer them water when they are thirsty, and limit the amount of juice that they drink. Juice tends to be high in sugar and a way for kids to drink empty calories, feeling full without getting real nutrients.

Their most difficult 2 recommendations are probably that parents be patient and good role models. Children learn through mimicry, so you will definitely want to practice healthful eating yourself.

Even with using these tricks, a child's picky eating can leave them with shortfalls. Pediatricians generally recommend in cases like these a simple supplementation routine that fills in the gaps. For children 4 & up, a multivitamin once a day should work. As an extra boost to your child's immune system, you can give them a probiotic, such as Perfect Probiotic, from Progressive Nutritional. There are also calcium and vitamin D supplements to strengthen their bones, which is especially important in light of the national shortfall. If you want to help their school performance, fish oil supplements are available to provide the nutrients the developing brain needs. With this combination of good eating habits and supplements, your child can fulfill their health potential.  

 If you want to learn about keeping your children healthy, contact us.

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