When children become toddlers, they start voicing their opinions about the foods they do and don’t want to eat. Unfortunately, some parents give in to these demands and feed them what they want instead of what’s good for them. This is the main reason why children are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. Health experts advise that you get your kids into a habit of healthy eating from a young age to avoid problems when they are older. In this article you will learn about the deficiency of nutrients in children and its impacts, as well as how to eradicate these deficiencies by making nutrition fun and tasty.
Deficiency of Nutrients in Children and its Impacts
The following are the most common deficiency of nutrients in infants and its impacts.
- Iron Deficiency: Children need iron for several reasons, it is required to help carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. When children lack iron, they can develop anaemia which causes lethargy, delayed cognitive functioning and a host of other serious conditions. You can make sure your child has enough iron by feeding them the following foods: pastas, breads, iron-fortified cereals, dried-fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, seafood, poultry, pork, red meat.
- Vitamin D: Children need vitamin D so that the body can absorb calcium. Calcium is an essential nutrient for growing children because it helps to strengthen the bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to conditions such as childhood osteomalacia, hypophosphatemia and hypocalcemia. You can get vitamin D from the following foods: fish that is high in essential fatty acids, egg yolks, beef liver, soy milk, cereals.
- Zinc Deficiency: Zinc is required for proper childhood growth, a strong immunity and sex hormone development. A zinc deficiency can have a negative effect on skin, nails, hair, height and cognitive functioning. You can add zinc to your child’s diet by introducing foods such as peanuts, cashews, squash seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, lentils, beans, pork, beef and seafood.
- Calcium Deficiency: This is the most common deficiency in children. Not only does it stunt bone development, it can also cause blood clotting, have a negative effect on heart regulation, enzyme functioning and transmitting messages from the nervous system to other parts of the body. As well as dairy products, calcium is also found in the following foods: fortified cereals, seeds, almond butter, nuts, catfish, sardines, salmon, tofu, soy, leafy green vegetables.
How to Eradicate These Deficiencies by Making Nutrition Fun and Tasty?
- The Food Rainbow: Before you sit down for a meal as a family, get the children to draw rainbows using primary colored markers (red, yellow, orange, purple, blue, green). Once dinner has been served, give the pictures out and ask the kids if they can see any fruit on their plate; if so, what color is it? Once they have taken a bite of the fruit, they can cross out the color on the rainbow. Ask the question again with the vegetables. Give the pictures out at every meal time until all the colors have been crossed off.
- Get Them to Help: Cooking helps to improve basic skills such as reading, counting, measuring, listening, pouring and following directions. Your children are more likely to eat the food that they help prepare as it gives them ownership of the food and provides them with a sense of accomplishment.
- Smiley Face Lunch: You can play this game with any meal you are having as long as the plate is round. Get the kids to make a smiley face with their fruits and vegetables, the face will have a pair of eyes, a mouth, a nose and a pair of ears. You can even create glasses or jewelry such as earrings with the fruit and vegetables. Once the faces have been completed, one by one, they should choose what part of the face they are going to eat until the plate no longer has a face.
- Arts and Crafts: A lot of kids don’t like eating whole grains, you can introduce them to new food groups by playing a game of arts and crafts with the food before cooking it. For example, you can make a spaghetti lion, or another type of animal that your child likes.
- Food Guessing Game: Before you sit down for dinner, write out some easy to read clues about the fruit and vegetables that’s going to be served. While you are having dinner, take it in turns to read out the clue and guess the food.
To ensure that your kids are getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals, you can also give them a healthy supplement. Check out Mama's Select Infant Powdered Multi-Vitamins to help with deficiencies and healthy growth and development.