A solid nutritional needs for children is important for children to build upon to promote well-being and boost vitality. Yet the diets of children and adolescents are often poor because of inadequate consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and excessive consumption of processed foods with added sugar and unhealthy fats.
And this scenario is true all over the industrial world. Two recent reports from the United Kingdom reaffirm similar data reported by the US, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere. The British Heart Foundation Statistics Database shows that approximately 90% of children do not eat the recommended 5 or more portions of fruits and vegetables combined per day, and a shocking 1 in 5 ate no fruit during the week of the survey.
The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey among young people aged 4-18 years showed that only about half of the children consume any whole grains.
Why Nutritional Needs For Children Are Greater
Children go through phenomenal growth and development during their early years. They produce more than a billion new cells each day and it takes a lot of nutrients to support this rapid growth. Young tissues and organ systems need energy and the right balance of nutrients to develop properly. For example, children’s immature immune systems are constantly exposed to bacteria and viruses, and many nutrients have been shown to support immune system response.
This is also a time when cognitive skills and personalities are developing, and scientific studies have found links between levels of certain nutrients and mental performance and mood.
Rapid physical growth and mental development during childhood and adolescence requires an increased supply of both energy and nutrients to keep the body’s metabolic pathways running smoothly.
Because their metabolic rates are on average so high, nutrients abundance and balance are particularly essential during these early stages of life. It is also vital that children acquire the right nutritional needs for children and dietary behavioural patterns so that good food habits will continue through adult life.
What are the right Nutrients for nutritional needs for children ?
Children, just like adults need the right balance of nutrients from a variety of food sources – whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy protein sources such as fish, along with adequate exercise and rest. Whole foods and supplements are a source of a variety of macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that play critical roles in these formative years in a child’s life.
Carbohydrates are the main source for energy. Children need more energy because they are generally more active, and are rapidly growing and developing. It is imperative that the carbohydrates come from good natural sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Simple carbohydrates like white flour and refined sugar should be limited.
Protein is the basic biochemical building-block needed for growing bodies and essential to human life. Children, as well as adolescents, need an abundance of high quality protein to sustain their rapid growth and optimal development. Skin, muscle, organ, and tissue cells are all composed of protein as are the hormones and enzymes that control growth and metabolism.
Fats are an important source of energy in children and adolescents. They also play an important role in keeping our cells healthy and are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. However, it is important that our children consume the right kinds of fats by avoiding saturated and transfats.
Healthy fats include most plant derived oils as well as fish oil that is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids.
These are essential to human health but cannot be made by the body in amounts needed to meet demand. For this reason, they must be obtained from the food we eat or be added to the diet in the form of supplements.
Other important dietary fats, known as lipids and sterols from whole grains influence nutrition at the cellular level. Lipids and sterols support a healthy cellular uptake of nutrients and cellular export of waste and metabolites.
Filling Children’ s Nutritional Gaps With Dietary Supplements—Why?
Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that including the right nutrients in your child’s diet can have a dramatic impact on their physical as well as intellectual development and performance.
Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast perform better at school, yet many children skip breakfast. In general, those who have healthy eating habits when young are more likely to have healthy diets as adults too.
Multi-Vitamin Minerals Improve Attention And Brain Function
In a recent (2008) well-controlled study in the UK, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, a 12- week daily multivitamin mineral supplementation in children ages 8-14 years resulted in an increased attention task performance compared to non supplemented counterparts.
Girls Who Supplement Their Diets With Calcium And Vitamin D Grow Taller And Are Stronger In Their Teens
Calcium supplementation, along with vitamin D plays a critical role in building strong and healthy bones and muscles in children. Recent studies reported significant gain in bone mass and muscle power in adolescent girls.
Zinc Helps Children Think
Another study showed that Zinc, associated generally with immune function may actually help children think better. In the trial, 11-year-olds who took 20mg zinc supplements for five days each week had better mental performance after three months than their classmates, as cited in a study by the US Agricultural Research Service’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota in April 2005
Omega-3 & Vitamin E Mix Shows Potential For Improved Speech In Autistic Children
According to research published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, daily supplements of omega-3 and vitamin E were associated with improvement in speech, imitation, eye contact and behaviour in autistic children.
“Precisely at the time when young bodies’ nutritional requirements are greatest, many fail to obtain all the nutrients they need each day. Deficiencies of vital nutrients can inhibit not only physical growth, but internal development, mental performance, and repair and maintenance of developing tissues. Immune systems can be depressed, as well, leaving the child more vulnerable to infection and disease”. Dr. Arthur Furst