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Children and Vitamins

By: Sharon Edge - Updated: 16 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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Children need a regular intake of vitamins to help them grow up healthy and strong. But kids can be fussy eaters and it can be tough getting them to eat the healthy diet that would be most beneficial. On top of that all the running around they do burns up energy – and vitamins – fast. So it’s important to consider nutrition when you’re feeding your family.

Why Kids Need Vitamins

For the first two decades of life, the growing human body needs its highest amount of nutrients. It’s a time of rapid development, as we go from little babies, to toddlers, children and teenagers.

The Early Years

For the first few years of life, our bodies are particularly busy. During this time your child’s body is busy developing strong bones. The brain and nervous system are also on the go during these highly active, early years as we learn to talk, walk, read, write, remember things, co-ordinate our movements and use our senses. All this takes energy and nutrition.

Puberty and Vitamins

After the age of about 12, puberty starts to set in. The arrival of sex hormones triggers major body changes, which should be supported by good nutrition and plenty of vitamins. While the body is adjusting to all the changes that puberty brings, the social life of an average early teenager, brings with it its own problems. The immature immune system begins to go through a time of high activity as your growing youngster starts going to more after-school clubs and activities, parties and staying over at friends’ houses – maybe puppy love has struck and they’ve even got a boyfriend or girlfriend. With an increased social life, your child’s immune system is assessing all the bugs and bacteria that the body comes into contact with, so that it can protect your child as the years go by. This period of rapid growth and development requires plenty of vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients contained within a well balanced diet.

Vitamin Rich Food for Children

Vitamin C

A must for supporting the developing immune system and for and energy production. Great sources of vitamin C include:

  • citrus fruits
  • blueberries
  • blackcurrants
  • kiwi fruit
  • raspberries
  • parsley
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • peppers
  • watercress.
In fact, there are so many good foods containing vitamin C, that there’s really no need for your child to be doing without. If you really struggle to get them to eat their fruit and vegetables, try making a smoothie now and again. Put milk, ice cream, yoghurt or soya yoghurt into a blender with some strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. Add a spoonful of honey if they have a particularly sweet tooth, then blend away. Don’t forget to save some for yourself.

B vitamins

Bouncing, running, swimming, cartwheeling, skipping, hopping and generally driving you mad – you know your kids use a lot of energy. That’s why B vitamins are so essential. B vitamins are required for energy production as well as supporting brain function and hormonal balance. Make sure you child eats enough of these key nutrients by serving pulses, oats, wholegrain or brown rice, lentils, rye and bananas.

Calcium

Though not a vitamin, calcium is an important mineral and should form part of your child’s everyday nutrition. It’s required for healthy bones and teeth formation. Most people turn to dairy products for their calcium, but you’ll also find plenty in broccoli, spring greens, spinach, tofu, tinned sardines and pilchards.

Zinc

Zinc is also a mineral rather than a vitamin. But it’s another key nutrient to think about when planning family meals. Zinc is required for the growth and development of all tissues, for the immune system, healthy skin and hormonal balance. Try serving tofu, chickpeas, prawns, squid, chicken, turkey, lean red meat, white fish, oats, brown rice or sardines.

Iron

Another mineral, iron is particularly important for vegetarian or vegan children and for girls starting their periods. Lean red meat and sardines are both good choices, but for veggie kids, go for spinach, parsley, spring greens, lentils or watercress.

Kids and Vitamin Supplements

Between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, many children would benefit from supplements of vitamins A, C and D. Keep in mind though that supplements might be unnecessary if your child enjoys a good appetite and a varied diet. Always ask your GP or health visitor for individual advice.

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