GOOD nutrition is important at every age, more so for growing children. A nutrient-rich diet allows your child to reach his or her full growth potential and maintain their energy level.
Proper nutrition also aids in brain development, and improves mental health and attention span. This will also support their immune system to fight off infection and for them to recover quickly from illnesses.
A well-balanced diet protects them from malnourishment, prevents obesity and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
Vitamins and minerals are important for healthy growth and development in children.
Vitamins do not provide children with energy but help their body systems to function in a normal way. As the vitamins and dietary supplements industry grows, we are bombarded with marketing campaigns. Parents often feel pressured to give their children vitamins and dietary supplements.
Healthy kids who eat a well-balanced diet usually do not need vitamins or supplements. Most children, even picky eaters, get enough vitamins from the food they eat. Additionally, many types of food, such as cereal and milk, are fortified with important nutrients, like vitamin D and calcium.
A balanced diet includes dairy or dairy alternatives, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein foods, such as poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes. like beans and lentils.
EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
Supplementation may be necessary in children who:
* FOLLOW vegetarian or vegan diets since vitamin B 12 is only found in animal-based foods.
* HAVE food allergies, such as milk allergies — they may need vitamin D and calcium supplements.
* ARE underweight or have faltering growth.
* HAVE chronic illnesses such as chronic malabsorption.
There are two classes of vitamins — fat-soluble (A, D, E and K) and water-soluble (B-complex and C).
Fat-soluble vitamins require fat in the diet to be absorbed, and are also stored in the body's fat tissue for later use. When over-consumption occurs, toxicity can result.
Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, travel through the bloodstream and are excreted in urine, instead of being stored.
A child's growing body requires fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, in varying amounts, each day.
If a child requires supplements, one should look out for vitamins/supplements that are free of fillers, artificial flavours, food dyes, and preservatives. The product should be specifically formulated for kids with the recommended dosage.
* The writer is a paediatrician at Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur.