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As your children grow up, you need to make sure they’re getting the vitamins and minerals they need to develop healthy and strong bodies and minds. Indeed, there’s a wealth of information dedicated to the subject of children’s nutrition. Knowing where and when to get the necessary vitamins for children who need extra minerals is something parents should learn, in order to give their kids the best chance in life as they can.
A lack of suitable nutrition is harmful not just for a child’s growth, but also many other aspects of their life as well. It’s been consistently shown that kids who don’t get the vitamins they need perform worse in schools, suffer more socially, and find it harder to maintain cheerful moods and attitudes.
Sadly, it’s not always easy to get appropriate food for children when you want it. In some cases, this is simply because of the age-old temptation to eat cheaper, more readily made junk food, especially when parents just don’t have the time to dedicate to home-cooked meals. In others, it’s more a lack of knowledge of where you can get the vitamins kids need from foods they actually want to eat.
Where to Find Them
The most reliable and easiest way to ensure your children are getting the vitamins they need is to make sure you give them natural, unprocessed foods during meal times. That’s not to say that there’s no place for the occasional sugary or fatty snack here and there, or even that you can’t treat them to an occasional fast food meal. However, fresh fruit, meat, vegetables and dairy products should form the bulk of their diet. If there is some reason they can’t partake in a given source – such as vegetarianism – then look into an alternative to ensure they’re still eating properly.
The main vitamins a kid should be getting are Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as Iron and Calcium. The first, Vitamin A, is often found in liver, meat, milk and eggs, oranges and carrots. They improve eyesight, immunity to disease, and skin growth. Vitamin B is found in fish, meat, and whole meal bread and cereals. Vitamin C is necessary to help release energy and improve the muscles and circulatory system. Vitamin C is found in fruit and vegetables, and helps keep your bones and immune system healthy.
Iron is used to keep the blood healthy, improve your circulation and the rate at which oxygen is carried around the body. It can be found in red meat, eggs, dried beans and egg yolk. Children are particularly at risk of iron deficiency, as they go through frequent growth spurts.
Calcium is primarily found in dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, but can also be found in fish with edible bones such as tuna and salmon. As we all know, calcium makes for strong teeth and bones.
There’s also Vitamin D, though this is produced naturally in the body when it's exposed to sunlight and tends not to factor into diets that much. If children don’t go out frequently, though, you can find small amounts in oily fish, butter and egg yolks.
When Do Kids Need Extra Vitamins?
Another trouble arises in recognizing when a child is not getting the things they need from their diet.
Sometimes it’s not all that easy to tell. In general, a pediatrician will recommend that a parent pay extra close attention to kids’ diets if they’re:
• Kids who aren’t getting regular, home-made and freshly sourced meals at home or school.
• Kids who eat a lot of fast food, or drink a lot of soda.
• Are finicky eaters, who may not eat everything set before them.
• Have allergies or dietary requirements that make the usual source of vitamins impractical.
• Kids taking certain medication (check with the doctor prescribing them).
• Kids who live very active lifestyles.
In these situations, you need to be a little more thoughtful with the sorts of food and meals you prepare for your children. But in more severe cases, you may see one of the following that may indicate a problem:
• Changes in the color or quality of the skin and hair
• Skin that bruises easily
• Aching joints or bones that are soft and tender
• Night blindness
• Lack of energy
• Changes in mood
When in doubt, call your doctor or pediatrician, and they may be able to recommend a course of action. Keep a note of your local pediatric urgent care centers and hospitals in case the symptoms persist or become particularly pronounced.
Christian Mills is a freelance writer and family man who contributes articles and advice on topics from health and wellness to activities for parents and children to promote healthy living.
Photo sourced from Wikimedia Commons.