Getting kids to eat healthily is easier said than done. But, that does not mean you should overlook the importance of instilling healthy eating habits. Here are the essential vitamins and nutrients your kids should be consuming daily.
Important for cell repair and healing, healthy vision, immune system function and proper growth of body tissue. Dietary vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, which can be found in orange-coloured fruits and vegetables, can be turned into vitamin A while processed in the body.
There are several vitamin Bs: B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, and B12. These vitamins help make red blood cells and form our genetic blueprint. They help maintain metabolism, convert food into energy and keep the circulatory and nervous systems healthy. They can be found in a variety of foods such as dairy, eggs, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, soy products, red meat, poultry and seafood.
Required for bone and tooth health as well as for proper muscle function, you can boost calcium intake through dairy products. For children who can’t eat dairy, there are many calcium-fortified supplement products available to help ensure they are getting the calcium they need for their growing bodies.
It helps form healthy cartilage, blood vessels and muscles. It is also essential in the development of healthy neurotransmitters and is found in high amounts in immune cells. Vitamin C is simple to get from most of our favourite fruits like citruses, strawberries and kiwis. It is also present in broccoli, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth formation and helps your body absorb calcium. It has benefits for immune and mental health as well as overall life expectancy. Living in Canada means you may not be getting enough Vitamin D during the winter months when sunlight hours are limited. Vitamin D can be found in foods like egg yolks, milk, shiitake mushrooms and fatty fish such as sardines and salmon.
Iron is required for your blood to carry oxygen to your cells and tissues. When iron levels drop, children and teens can become irritable and tired. Poor appetite, problems focusing, learning and performing well in school are also signs of low iron. Too much iron can cause other issues, which is why it is not recommended to supplement children with it unless they are known to be deficient. Visit your healthcare provider to request a low iron test for your child or teen if that is a concern for you.
Responsible for managing many parts of the body, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar, blood pressure, proteins and hormones. Lacking magnesium can have wide-reaching repercussions on growing bodies. Eating leafy green vegetables, whole grains and dairy can help enrich your child’s diet with magnesium.
Children, like adults, might be exceeding their daily recommended intake of sodium. That can result from the consumption of too much convenience foods like frozen and canned food, chips and salty snacks. Too much sodium has been linked to increased risk for high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. If the value of sodium on a food item is 15% or higher, it is considered a high; stick to options with 5% or less.
Teaching healthy eating now can help your kids form a strong foundation for healthy eating for the future. Instead of reaching for fast food, rethink convenience by choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds, and other low or no sodium snack alternatives and prepping meals ahead of time. Read labels on packaged foods carefully to make sure your children are consuming nutritious food.