This blog was originally written by Richa Choudhary. To view more of her writing, click here.
Did you know the development of kids begins when they are inside their mother’s womb? Obtaining proper nutrition at that time sets the stage for a child to have a healthier future.
Those first few years of your child’s life are very important because it is during this time that your baby grows and develops the most. In fact, 90% of the brain development happens during the first five years.
Your kid needs more nutrition during this time than any other time. So, the right kind of food ensures that your child reaches his full potential when it comes to physical or mental growth. Not getting proper nutrition can cause irreversible damage to the brain and have an impact on physical growth.
So, for proper growth and development, your baby needs two types of nutrients - macronutrients and micronutrients.
Both macronutrients and micronutrients are responsible for providing energy, physical growth and development. Apart from the visible changes in the body, brain development and immunity system growth are also fueled by these nutrients. Micro nutrients, in specific, deserve special attention during the initial years because their deficiency could lead to impaired cognitive development which could result in reduced learning capacity.
Providing the right kind of foods to those tiny stomachs is all the more complicated because the stomach size is incredibly small but the nutrition quotient required is much more than that of adults. So the little amount of food your child eats needs to be brimming with high nutritional value.
Essential micronutrients that are required for children are:
Almost Two-thirds of children in the world have iron deficiency. Iron is needed to make haemoglobin in red blood cells which transport oxygen around in our bodies. A lack of it can lead to anaemia which can show up as tiredness, pale skin, lack of appetite. This can also cause delayed development of fine and gross motor skills in children.
Lean meat, eggs, lentils, beans, nuts, wholemeal bread, and dark coloured vegetables are rich sources of iron. But also remember to include vitamin C in your diet which helps in absorption of iron.
Calcium is required for bones and teeth growth, and healthy functioning of the body. Milk and dairy products are the best sources of calcium. Lack of calcium could result in a disease called rickets which softens the bones and results in bow legs, stunted growth and muscle weakness.
Vitamin D is responsible for absorption of Calcium and phosphorus. It is also important for the proper functioning of the immune system. The symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency can vary anywhere from skeletal deformities, skull malformations, thick wrists and ankles to bow legs. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight but due to kids being kept indoors these days, this needs to be fulfilled by other supplements and food.
Vitamin A is essentially needed to keep your skin healthy, and also helps in the functioning of the immune system. Dairy products, fish and eggs are all a great source of vitamin A.
Foods rich in beta-carotene also convert to vitamin A. Yellow and red vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, mango, papaya and apricots are also excellent sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is really important to maintain good eye-health, a lack of it can result in dry eyes, night blindness, dry skin and frequent infections among young kids.
The thing about Indian diets is that they are high in macronutrients but are very low in micronutrients like Zinc, Iron and calcium.
98% of your baby’s iron and 72% of your baby’s zinc needs to be fulfilled by complimentary food but your everyday meals won’t cut it. But did you know that one serving of Tropicana Essentials IRON juice has as much iron as 100gms of spinach? Tropicana essentials juices (both the IRON and the fruits and veggies variant) are rich in Vitamin A and C and are made from concentrated juices of apples, carrots and other veggies. It gives 15% of RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) which means that consuming 1 serving of this juice would satisfy 15% of the necessary iron and nutrients requirement.
Fortified cereals and foods have been found to be a good source of micronutrients for the body. Supplements are also a solution and you can give that after consulting your paediatrician but it’s advisable to consume more natural resources like juices and fruits, veggies. Although it is recommended to consume 5 servings of fruit and veggies per day, the average intake is only 3.5 creating an average deficiency of 1.5. But, just 1 serving (200 ml) of Tropicana Essentials FRUIT & VEGGIES is equivalent to consuming 1 serving of fruits and vegetables thus helping to bridge the nutritional gap.
Due to malnutrition in kids, deficiency of micronutrients has become a national concern now. 50% of healthy looking children have a deficiency of vitamin A, B2, folate or vitamin C. These deficiencies are sometimes termed as hidden hunger which needs to be fulfilled through fortified food and beverages!
The first five years are very important for your baby’s growth, both macro and micronutrients are required for proper functioning of the body. Children's diet should havan e abundance of micronutrients like Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Vitamins.