In the good old days Dad went out to earn each day. Mom stayed home to tend to the family. This involved preparing a wholesome breakfast for the children each morning, a healthy lunch box and an evening meal flavoured with the goodness of freshly grown vegetables straight from the garden!
Now look at your own family’s routine today. Is the food we eat still as healthy or is your freezer packed with pre-cooked meals and hotdog sausages and your cupboards bursting with an assortment of artificial juices and sugary snacks?
Should we just supplement our children’s poor eating habits with a powerful multi-vitamin each day instead of a healthy diet?
By giving our children vitamins it can be seen as freeing us from worrying about their diet. The convenience of this sounds great, but you have to wonder if these super pills are really as good as the real thing.
Ditching healthy eating also obviously teaches our children a whole different -second rate’ way to address the subject of feeding our minds and our bodies with the goodness nature intended for us.
So what do our children really need to grow healthy from tip to toe?
Most health authorities vote for using vitamins to supplement your child’s growth, but not to replace the goodness from a balanced, wholesome diet.
The role of the vitamin clan
When it comes to our growing children’s needs, various vitamins and minerals are essential. Product packaging always displays quantities of these, but what do these basic vitamins actually do?
- Vitamin A is necessary for healthy eyesight, including being able to see in vivid clarity and colour. Also assists in healthy skin. Found in orange fruits and vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables.
- The B group (B1, B2, B6 and B12) is really busy making energy, replacing red blood cells which transport oxygen around the body and building a healthy nervous network. Found in whole grains, seafood, poultry, red meat, eggs, dairy, leafy green veggies, beans and peas.
- Vitamin C keeps gums and muscles healthy, helps heal cuts or wounds, and fights infection. Found in citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, kiwi fruits and sweet red peppers.
- Vitamin D will build strong bones, strong teeth and helps the body absorb calcium. Found in fish, egg yolks, liver and fortified cereals.
- Vitamin E is both a builder and a maintenance chap, important for the formation of red blood cells and maintaining eye, skin and liver tissues. Found in whole grains, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, sardines, egg yolks, nuts and seeds.
- Vitamin K is essential for the clotting of the blood. Found in leafy green vegetables, dairy, broccoli and soybean oil.
Water soluble and fat soluble vitamins
You may wonder what these important chaps do in your body while waiting to be called to work. Well they can be grouped into two categories: water soluble vitamins and fat soluble ones.
Water soluble vitamins are impatient and don’t wait around as long as fat soluble vitamins. They rush through your bloodstream, repairing and building as they go. Any left overs are dispelled through the urine.
But the fat soluble vitamins have more time on their hands, so they hang around in the fat tissues and liver until they are needed. Some are happy to just chill there for a few days while others will stay for a couple of months!
It’s your choice
The role of vitamins in growth and development is vital, but the choice lies with you, the parent, as to whether to go the supplementing pill way or the more traditional balanced diet alternative.