Infancy is a key period to start promoting healthy eating for the future. If a child is well nourished, it will contribute to their physical, cognitive development and good health. “A consequence of micronutrient deficiency is that children are more prone to health problems and develop infectious diseases, which occur repeatedly, as these deficiencies have a significant impact on their immune system,” says Karen Velasquez, a nutritionist at our clinic, who provides further guidance on this issue.
At what stage can micronutrient deficiencies occur in children?
It can start at the stage where babies begin to eat semi-solid and/or solid foods. Later on, they consume food from the family pot, and this is where problems can arise since it is often thought that children can eat everything and end up consuming foods high in calories, sugars, and fats that do not provide them with the necessary micronutrients.
What micronutrients do children need?
In general, it is important that all micronutrients are present in the nutritional regimen of children, especially those under five years of age. However, the main ones are the whole B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12), vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc.
We can counteract micronutrient deficiencies in children with foods rich in:
- Iron. Important for the immune system and intellectual development. It is found in chicken blood, beef, offal, chicken, fish, eggs, and vegetable stews (accompanied by food with vitamin C or citrus fruit, such as orangeade, lemonade, or vegetable salad with lemon).
- The key to the growth of bone mass. Mainly found in dairy foods and their derivatives (milk, cheese, and yogurt), vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, eggs, and almonds, and in some foods fortified with calcium.
- Vitamin A: It is involved in the production of red blood cells and in the function of the immune system, in addition to preventing night blindness. We consume it in carrots, broccoli, spinach, papaya, melon, dairy products, eggs, and beef liver.
- Zinc: Essential for the development and healing of wounds. This mineral is found in foods of animal origin (red meat, poultry, dairy products, and cereals).
- Vitamin D: Helps to fix calcium. The main source of this vitamin is sunlight, but we can also obtain it in fish (trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolk, and cheese.
Our specialist recommends:
- Prioritize natural foods, instead of ultra-processed foods that are quick to prepare or ready to eat. Many times, parents opt for supplements in syrups and pills to counteract the deficit. However, the consumption of natural foods that promote a balanced diet is enough to prevent possible deficiencies.
- Check the nutritional information of products that claim to be fortified with iron or calcium, as they may have certain minerals or vitamins; however, they have other food additives that can lead to malnutrition, especially excess weight.
- The Nutrition Service of our clinic awaits you, to provide advice to parents regarding what type of food each child requires and in what quantities, in order to achieve healthy nutrition.
Nutritionist at Clínica Ricardo Palma