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Vital Vitamins – Why They Are So Important

Vital vitaminsEveryone knows about vitamins and we are all aware of the fact that we need vitamins to function. However are our kid’s receiving enough of the essential vitamins they require?

The reality of the situation is that most kids are not meeting the recommended intake for calcium, and many kids are also not receiving the right amounts of vitamin E and zinc, and their diets are lacking in iron.

 

Vital Vitamins A – Z

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is found in foods such as milk, liver, cheddar cheese, spinach and fortified cereals. In nature, the vital vitamin is found in yellow and orange fruits and veggies like carrots, squashes and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A helps the body to fight off infections, and it also keeps eyes healthy and is crucial for healthy bone growth.

Kids need:

Ages 1-3: 300 mg/day

Ages 4-8: 400 mg/day

Ages 9-13: 600 mg/day

Interesting facts:

*        It’s a common belief that cooking destroys nutrients, but when it comes to vitamin A, cooking actually increases the available amount of the vitamin, which means that cooked carrots actually contain more vitamin A than raw carrots. However, over-cooking the vegetables will destroy the nutritional content so don’t overcook!.

*        Just a half a cup of carrots per day will give your child all the vitamin A they need!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for normal growth and development, it helps to prevent infections like common colds, and helps to heal wounds. Foods that contain good quantities of vitamin C are citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, strawberries, mangoes, peppers and broccoli.

Kids need:

Ages 1-3: 15 mg/day

Ages 4-8: 25 mg/day

Ages 9-13: 45 mg/day

Interesting facts:

*        A single orange contains 70 mg of Vitamin C!

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D and calcium work to keep your child’s bones strong and healthy. The human body manufactures its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, and so kids who spend little time outside or who don’t drink enough milk may not be getting enough of this vital vitamin. Good sources of vitamin D are found in cereals that are fortified with the vitamin, as well as in eggs and fish such as tuna and salmon.

Kids need:

Ages 1-13: 5 mcg (200 IU)/day

Interesting facts:

*        A glass of milk will make up for half of a child’s daily vitamin D requirements.

*        Sunscreen blocks the UV rays that are responsible for producing vitamin D; kids need just 10 minutes in the sun without protection each week to meet their vitamin D needs.

 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and has the power to protect the body’s cells from the damaging free radicals that can lead to cancer and heart disease. Most children are not receiving the required amount of this essential vitamin. Sunflower seeds and almonds are rich sources of vitamin E; however, if kids are very young, nuts should be avoided as they pose a choking threat.

Kids need:

Ages 1-3: 6 mg/day

Ages 4-8: 7 mg/day

Ages 9-13: 11 mg/day

Interesting facts:

*        A handful of almonds contains as much as 7 mg of vitamin E.

 

Calcium

Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. Calcium is found in dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese, and even certain puddings are packed with calcium. The non-dairy sources are spinach, almonds and calcium-fortified soymilk and juice (the non-dairy foods are recommended for children who are lactose intolerant)

Kids need:

Ages 1-3: 500 mg/day

Ages 4-8: 800 mg/day

Ages 9-13: 1,300 mg/day

Interesting facts:

*        One glass of milk even if it is skimmed contains as much as 300 mg of calcium, although milk is not the best source of calcium..

 

Iron

Iron keeps the blood supply healthy and healthy blood supplies oxygen to the body’s tissues. Iron deficiency is very common in toddlers and in preteen girls. Iron found in animal products like red meat is more easily absorbed by the body than the iron that is present in non-animal products like beans, vegetables and fortified foods.

Kids need:

Ages 1-3: 7 mg/day

Ages 4-8/: 10 mg/day

Ages 9-13: 8 mg/day

Interesting facts:

*        One bowl of iron-fortified oats in the morning is able to meet the child’s iron requirements for the day.

*        Vitamin C assists the body to absorb iron more effectively, so make sure that you serve berries or orange juice with the bowl of iron-fortified oats.

*        Children who are vegetarians or who are not fond of meat may need to take an iron supplement to prevent iron deficiency.

 

Magnesium

The diets of most do not include sufficient quantities of this vital mineral.  Magnesium is essential for chemical reactions in the body, keeping the heart rhythm steady, developing the immune system and strengthening bones. Magnesium is found in a wide range of foods, including whole grains, fish, nuts, potatoes, and dairy products.

Kids need:

Ages 1-3: 80 mg/day

Ages 4-8: 130 mg/day

Ages 9-13: 240 mg/day

Interesting facts:

*        A peanut-butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread can meet a 3 year olds magnesium intake needs for the day.

*        Choose whole-wheat bread over white bread and add more whole-wheat pasta and brown rice to your child’s diet.

 

Zinc

Zinc is required for normal growth and development during childhood and it also helps to boost the immune system. The essential mineral can be found in a number of food sources such as red meat, nuts, beans, whole-grain foods and dairy products.

Kids need:

Ages 1-3: 3 mg/day

Ages 4-8: 5 mg/day

Ages 9-13: 8 mg/day

Interesting facts:

*        A lot of breakfast cereals are fortified with 100% of the recommended daily zinc intake.

*        Beef, pork, and chicken are rich in zinc.

 

Supplements

In terms of your child’s vitamin and mineral requirements, food sources are the best way to go. The body absorbs nutrients a lot better from food. Multivitamins will work well for kids who are fussy eaters and who do not eat a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. A child who eats a well-balanced diet daily will not need to take multivitamins. Dieticians and paediatricians recommend that parents should rather concentrate on offering their children healthy and nutritious food choices instead of relying on multivitamins!

 

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