; In the early years, your child grows at a rapid rate - physically, emotionally, mentally and socially. To support healthy growth and development, your child needs high-quality nutrition. It is vital for muscle, bone and brain development, as well as to build immunity for a lifetime. Vitamins and minerals support your child’s normal growth, body functions and immunity. They are important at every stage, especially during early development. Functions of Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients., i.e, they are needed in smaller amounts by the body. Vitamins support various body functions. Vitamins are both fat-soluble (stored in the fat cells) or water-soluble (cannot be stored in the body as much.) Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble whereas B-complex Vitamins and Vitamin C are water-soluble. Minerals - like Calcium, iron, potassium and zinc, are also vital in functions ranging from maintaining health to building strong bones, transmitting nerve impulses and maintaining a steady heart rate. What Micronutrients Does Your Preschooler Need The Most?
After the age of 6 months, children need increased amounts of iron, iodine, vitamins A and D, and Zinc, but at least half of the children worldwide, between the ages of 6 months to 5 years are deficient in one or more of these nutrients. It is thus very important to pay specific attention to these micronutrients in your preschooler. Ideally, a healthy balanced diet with a variety of grains, fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and dairy products can provide your child with their micronutrient needs. Iron
Iron is essential for motor and cognitive development, and at this age, your child is more likely to have an iron deficiency. Low haemoglobin anaemia is also a common feature of iron deficiency. Prolonged iron deficiency can affect your child’s mental development and school performance. Sources: Spinach, dates, chikoo, potatoes, beetroots, and fortified grain flour or cereal. Iodine
Iodine controls the thyroid gland, which regulates the body’s energy usage as well as mental development. Children with an iodine deficiency may suffer cognitive and neural impairments. Sources: Iodised salt in foods, fish and dairy products. Vitamin A
Vitamin A supports eyesight and immune functions and is essential to prevent blindness as well as to help recover from infectious diseases like measles and diarrhoea. Feeding your child foods with Vitamin A can improve their eyesight as well as their immunity. Sources: Dark leafy greens, milk and dairy products, eggs, and orange fruits and vegetables like carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Vitamin D
Your child needs Vitamin D for his growing bones, and to reduce the risk of illnesses like pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchiolitis. Vitamin D is extremely important for children, who are more vulnerable to pneumonia. Sources: Dairy products, eggs, fish. You should also make sure your child spends some time in the sunlight. Vitamin D is important in calcium absorption for bone health. Zinc
Zinc is important for cell growth, metabolism, and immunity. A zinc deficiency can decrease your child’s immunity and limit your child’s growth in terms of height. Sources: Whole grains, fortified cereal, beans, nuts, dairy products and meat. Other than the above nutrients, your child needs nutrient-rich foods in their diet, that allows them to absorb a variety of nutrients. Make sure that your child eats a variety of fruits and vegetables, fibre, whole grains, proteins and dairy products. Early nutrition is crucial as it determines your child’s health for a lifetime. Pay attention to the food your child eats, because when it comes to health, quality always becomes the most important factor.