Nutrition for Kids: Which Vitamins are Essential for Children?
Every parent wants to make sure their child gets the right nutrients in their diet to grow strong bones and build an immune system that can ward off viruses. Since many children tend to be picky eaters, there's more reason to make sure they're getting enough vitamins in their diet to stay healthy. Keep reading to find out what vitamins and minerals your kids need to stay fit as well as food recommendations that are budget-friendly.
Essential vitamins and nutrients for children
|Vitamins & Nutrients||1 to 3 years old||4 to 6 years old|
|Calcium||500 mg||600 mg|
|Folic Acid (Folate)||150 mg||200 mg|
|Iron||7 mg||10 mg|
|Protein||13 g||19 g|
|Vitamin A||300 mcg||400 mcg|
|Vitamin D||15 mcg||15 mcg|
Calcium is essential for building a child's healthy bones and teeth. It is not just important during the formative growth months but also for building reserves due to possible bone loss in later years. Unknown to many, calcium also holds a vital role in blood clotting and optimal function of the nerves, muscles, and the heart.
To ensure that your child is getting enough calcium in their diet, include food items such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, broccoli, spinach, and tofu. These affordable food items are high in calcium. For an extra dose of calcium, consider giving your child a calcium supplement such as fruity chewable gummies from GNC, priced at S$39.95 for 120 gummies.
Folic Acid (Folate)
Folic acid doesn’t always come to mind but it is just as important as any other nutrient for your child’s growth. During pregnancy, the foetus in a mother’s womb benefits from folic acid because it helps in the development of the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid also prevents certain birth defects. Similarly, a growing child will require folic acid for cell development and the lack of folate may result in anemia, a condition that can cause insufficient healthy red blood cells to provide oxygen to the body. Vitamin B9 is a folic acid that is found in fruits, whole grain cereal, peanuts, lentils, chickpeas, asparagus, spinach, black beans, and brussels sprouts. These are all easy to access and affordable, especially when shopping with a grocery credit card.
Children require 7 mg to 10 mg of iron intake daily to maintain healthy blood that carries oxygen to cells all over the body. It is especially important for kids during periods of accelerated growth for healthy blood cell muscles. The lack of iron can lead to multiple problems in a child’s growth, so if you notice any symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia in your children such as regular fatigue, fast heart-beat, sore or swollen tongue or enlarged spleen, these could be a sign that your child needs more iron in their diet.
For children who are showing signs of iron deficiency, make sure to include red meat, poultry, shellfish, beans, nuts, fortified bread, and cereal in their diet because these food items are excellent sources of iron. Alternatively, consider iron supplements such as KinderNurture Minerals Iron Dietary Supplement from Watsons priced at S$29.90.
Protein is another important nutrient that helps a child's body build cells, break down food into energy, fight infection, and carry oxygen to different parts of the body. It is not hard to get enough daily protein if your child is consuming regular meals because protein is available in many common foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and dairy products.
Protein provides essential amino acids that contribute to mental and physical health so if your kids are showing signs of poor concentration, fatigue, slowed growth, and low immunity, you may need to pay more attention to their protein intake. For the simplest and most economical way to provide enough protein to your kids, try adding eggs to their regular diet. An egg can provide about 6 grams of protein, so letting them eat two to three a day could be the easiest solution.
Vitamin A is vital for bone development, vision improvement, strengthening the immune system, and promoting healthy cell and tissue growth. Children with clinical deficiencies of vitamin A are more likely to suffer from a variety of infectious diseases and are at a higher risk for developing visual problems including blindness. However, this is rare in a country like Singapore.
Vitamin A can be found in carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, fish oils, egg yolk, salmon, and dairy products made from milk fat like butter and ghee. Make sure that your child is not over-consuming the animal form of vitamin A because it can cause joint pain and decalcification of the bone. As such, always consult a doctor before rushing to buy a bunch of vitamin A supplements for your kids, they may not require as much as you think.
Vitamin D works with calcium to build strong bones and healthy teeth. Vitamin D can also help to protect your child against chronic disease later in life. While the most abundant source of vitamin D comes from exposure to natural sunlight, it is not safe to overexpose your child to direct sunlight because of harmful ultraviolet rays. A safe alternative is to include foods such as salmon, egg yolk, sardines, red meat, liver, and fortified foods in their daily meals.
If your child is constantly ill with the common flu or fever, it may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency because this is often linked to a weak immune system and a higher risk of autoimmune diseases. To ensure your kids are consuming enough vitamin D, consider supplements such as Pretorius butterscotch flavoured Kids Sunshine D, which is available for S$15.92 at Watsons.
Nourishing Your Kids Doesn’t Have To Be Costly
Making sure that your kids have enough vitamins and nutrients to keep them healthy isn’t that difficult in Singapore where many nutritious food types are readily available in the market at reasonable prices. Even if there is a need to improve their growth with supplements, there are many brands that offer affordable vitamin supplements for children. Remember to shop for them with a credit card that offers rewards or with a cashback credit card.