We all know that consuming a balanced diet is important and good for our children’s health and their overall physical development. But how many of us know what it actually truly entails?
Unlike what we would love to believe, a balanced meal isn’t about just stuffing your child with fruits and vegetables and nothing else. Rather, it is about helping them consume the right type and amount of nutrition to ensure proper growth and development.
But the key questions remain. What nutrients are most important and what are their sources? How much should they eat, and why?
If you are a parent, read on, we have come up with some great tips to get you and your child started. It doesn’t matter if your child is a fussy eater, snack monster or even a try, anything adventurer, this guideline provides a base for you to start getting creative with your child’s daily meals. And the best part? They are as easy as ABCs.
A IS FOR ARGININE
Arginine is an important amino acid that plays a major role in height development. It promotes the multiplication of cells at the growth plate in the bones, helping them grow longer in the process. It is also responsible for triggering the release of human growth hormones, which is essential in boosting muscle growth and strength while accelerating muscle repairs. This is why the new PediaSure formula is also rich in Arginine.
Commonly found in Plant & animal sources – chicken, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils
B IS FOR VITAMIN B1, 2 AND 3
Vitamin B is needed for energy metabolism that aids your child’s body to do anything, from moving to thinking to growing. Vitamin B1 in particular ensures the proper functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B2 on the other hand aids tissue growth and good vision, while Vitamin B3 ensures proper digestion.
Commonly found in:
Vitamin B1 – whole grains, soybeans, peas, beans and pistachios
Vitamin B2 – dairy, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and eggs
Vitamin B3 – kidney beans, peanuts, chicken and salmon
C IS FOR CALCIUM
Calcium is a mineral that is essential in helping to build a child’s healthy bones and teeth. It is also important for preventing blood clotting and for strengthening nerve, muscle, and heart functions. Children who get enough calcium start their adult lives with the strongest bones possible. This may protect them against the loss of bone mineral density which can lead to osteoporosis later in life.
Your child’s calcium intake should go hand in hand with Vitamin K2 as it is required to activate osteocalcin, an important protein secreted by the body’s bone-building cells. Vitamin K2 is also essential to ensure optimal calcification of the bones while removing excess calcium that can accumulate in soft tissues such as arteries and veins. This ensures that your child’s key organs such as the heart and kidneys are functioning properly.
Commonly found in:
Calcium – dairy (milk, yoghurt and cheese) broccoli, collard greens, kale, chard, Chinese cabbage, and other leafy greens, almonds, sesame seeds, oranges, figs, and prunes
Vitamin K2 – lean meat, liver and other organ meats, egg yolks
D IS FOR VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is important for calcium homeostasis, the mechanism by which the body maintains adequate calcium levels for optimal skeletal health. Sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin”, it has several important functions, perhaps the most vital being regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting enough vitamin D is important for not only normal growth and development of the bones and teeth but also improving resistance against certain diseases.
Commonly found in Fatty fishes such as salmon, tuna cod and sardines, fortified foods such as cow’s milk and breakfast cereals.
E IS FOR VITAMIN E… AND EXERCISE
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, i.e., compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. It is excellent in repairing damaged tissues quickly, contributing to a child’s overall growth.
While nutrition is the biggest component of childhood growth, you should also complement this by encouraging your child to exercise. This can be done by exposing them to fun fitness activities and sports. Participation in physical activity can help develop motor skills and muscles, as well as improve bone health and start patterns to keep them at a healthy weight as they grow taller and stronger.
Commonly found in Red bell pepper, asparagus, peanuts, peanut butter and mangoes
F IS FOR FATS… THE HEALTHY KIND
Fats make up 60 per cent of the brain and nerves that run every system in the body. They are a great source of energy for kids and are easily stored in the body. They are also important in helping the body to properly use some of the other nutrients it needs for growth. Healthy fats are a vital part of a child’s diet, and they should not be excessively limited or banned.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that not all fats are created equal, and you shouldn’t be feeding your children a regular diet of high fat and high-calorie fast foods. Such foods contain trans and saturated fats, which can contribute to childhood obesity and increase your child’s risks for a host of non-communicable diseases. Instead, try opting for monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from real and organic sources.
Commonly found in avocados, dark chocolate, whole eggs, fatty fishes, walnuts, macadamia, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
Incorporating the macro and micronutrients highlighted above into your child’s meals is a sure-fire way to ensure that they are on the right path to growing right. Nevertheless, it can be challenging to think about these nutritional components for every meal and on every single day.
PediaSure for example is formulated with probiotics, Arginine, Natural Vitamin K2, and 38 other key nutrients, aimed at aiding supporting catch-up growth and overall physical development for children. Start seeing real results by tracking your child’s development through the PediaSure GrowthCam filter, available on all smartphones.