Essential Vitamins & Minerals for Kids:
Part One – Macronutrients
Did you know that food is packed with a variety of nutrients – each of which has its own specific purpose in the body?
At various stages throughout our lives, the body has a unique set of goals in mind.
This is especially true of children’s bodies, which are still growing and preparing them for adulthood. They need larger amounts of certain nutrients than adult bodies do.
The following nutrients are essential for the growth of children’s bodies. These are the building-blocks for a child’s health and help them thrive in their ever-changing environment.
Proteins form the backbone of just about every tissue in the body, so are arguably the most vital nutrients for growth.
Since little bodies are still growing at a very rapid rate, eating quality protein is a priority.
Good sources of protein include:
- Chickpeas, beans and lentils
- Nuts, seeds and quinoa
- Tofu and other meat alternatives
Try to include one of these at every meal and snack to keep your child’s little body growing strong and healthily.
Did you know that one glass of Nutrivita’s yummy Choc Protein Milk can give your child a fifth of the protein they need for each day? It is therefore the perfect snack to supplement your child’s fun-filled day with some much needed protein.
Fat is not just the visible padding we see around our bellies and limbs. It is vital for a healthy functioning heart, brain, joints, reproductive system and metabolism.
Nourishing fats are therefore essential during childhood and puberty. They help with hormone balance and maintaining energy levels throughout a child’s busy day.
Try to include one of these healthy fats at every meal or snack:
- “Cold-pressed” vegetable oils (check the labels of sunflower, coconut, avocado and olive oils for this term – cold processing allows vegetable oils to still retain their nourishing qualities)
- Nuts and seeds (and their butters)
The most important fat for a healthy heart and brain is omega-3, which can be found in oily fish, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds – to name a few.
It may be a good idea to supplement with omega-3 if your child does not eat many of these foods, but it is always best to consult your trusted healthcare professional first.
Fun fact: Nutrivita’s Macadamia Milk gives a fat-packed punch of 11.5g per glass! It is a great snack choice to boost your kiddies’ energy levels while giving their hearts and brains some fatty goodness.
Sometimes adults cut down on this food group to maintain their body weight, but during childhood, it needs to be prioritised, and for good reasons.
Carbohydrates are the body’s favourite fuel source and little bodies need a lot of energy to do what they do best – grow!
It is best to choose carbs that have been processed as little as possible, as they still contain their vital health-giving properties (fibre, vitamins and minerals).
Try to include some of these nourishing carbs throughout your kid’s busy day:
- Wholegrains – brown rice, bulgur wheat, barley, oats, rye, sorghum, millet and quinoa
- Starchy vegetables – potato, butternut, carrots, sweet potato, peas and corn
- Lots of colourful fresh fruit
Great snack choice alert: Most of Nutrivita’s fresh juices are packed with fresh fruit and vegetables. You can just about choose any of them and know that your kiddies are getting a great source of quality carbs.
The added bonus of supplementing your kids with fresh juice is that they also provide a bunch of super helpful micronutrients (which we will be covering in next week’s blog post)!
Practical Tips for Getting in Your Kids’ Macros:
- Include some protein, carb and fat at every meal and snack.
- Keep little tummies happy with small meals and regular snacks in between.
- Include colourful fresh fruits and vegetables where-ever you can – keep it fun and interesting.
Be patient with fussy eaters – introduce a difficult food several meals, without force!
Written by our Registered Dietician, Vicki Fischer
Photography by www.neverbeforemedia.co.za