5 most essential nutrients for children. There is an undeniably strong relationship between diet, health and learning: nutrition is one of the major factors affecting the growth of a child.
Protein:Failure to gain weight and grow, increased irritability, decreased muscle mass, fatigue and a weakened immune system are symptoms of protein deficiency, according to MedlinePlus. Good sources of protein for children include poultry, lean meat, eggs, dairy foods, legumes, nuts, peanut butter and seeds. If your child is younger than age 2, ask your pediatrician before offering him nuts, seeds and peanut butter, and avoid tough cuts of meat.
Iron:According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S. is iron deficiency. Iron needs increase during rapid growth and development, especially in young children. Iron-deficiency anemia in children can lead to cognitive and motor delays. Iron-rich foods include lean meat, poultry, especially dark meat, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, leafy greens, legumes and raisins.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays many important roles in the human body, but is mainly responsible for bone health. Vitamin D is present in fish, dairy products and egg yolks; your child can also obtain vitamin D from being exposed to sunlight.
Calcium:Calcium helps your child’s bones grow and develop normally; it is also responsible for muscle function, intracellular signaling, nerve transmission and hormone secretion, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Calcium is abundant in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese, and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and beverages.
Omega-3s:DHA and EPA are the two main essential omega-3 fatty acids, responsible for proper cognitive development in children. These omega-3s are abundant in fish, fish oil and algal oils.