Can you imagine starting at birth a plan to fight aging all of your life? Do you think it is too soon? I don’t. We already know that most of us are not getting the nutrients we need for optimal health on a daily basis, unless we supplement. Doesn’t it make sense that if we start young, even at birth, to fuel our bodies with high quality nutrition, that those bodies are going to be healthier and live longer? And wouldn’t it be great if children didn’t get sick as often?
Today, we see young people getting sick. Too much. My daughter who last week finished her junior year of college just told me about two young people her age, both engaged to be married, who got cancer and died quickly. That is tragic.. very sad. Younger children are getting cancer and many other kinds of illnesses. It seemed that 26 years ago when I was a new mother, we worried about our kids getting a cold or an ear infection. Kids are still getting those illnesses, some more frequently than others, and many more like asthma, allergies, digestive problems, overweight issues. I heard a shockingly high statistic about autism the other day, and then there are attention disorders and other illnesses that didn’t seem as common as before.
“You must have grown a foot!” is a comment often used when seeing children. Children grow more in the first five years of life than at any other time. It is a time when they are developing and growing at a rapid rate. Vital body systems are developing such as the heart, brains and lungs. Children need proper nutrition to ensure proper development. I remember first learning about nutrition the fact that the body requires optimal nutrients in order for the bodily processes to work the way they were designed. It makes sense. If we are not getting the amount of nutrients we need through our foods, it also makes sense to look at supplements.
Nutritional needs for children under five are different than older children and adults. Experts agree breast milk is best for babies. While breastfeeding, a mother’s nutrition is very important. Her doctor may put mom on special vitamins, and many moms design their own natural nutrition plans. This ensures both mom and the baby are getting the nutrients they need. In the first three to six months of life this is the main source of nutrition the baby gets.
There are some mothers who are unable to breastfeed. There are formulas on the market to meet baby’s needs. While these do not provide some of the antibody and other benefits they are a good substitute. Read the labels though. Different formulas provide different nutrients. It is important to consult a health care provider to receive their recommendation as well.
In the news lately there has been information on the lack of Vitamin D children receive. Many formulas are Vitamin D fortified. There is concern about those children which are breastfeed and older children not getting the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin D is important for growing children. Vitamin D is vital for bone growth. It helps bones absorb calcium. Children grow at such a rapid rate and their bones need the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D to ensure healthy bones. Sources of Vitamin D are foods which are not traditionally liked by small children. Cod liver oil and fatty fish. Exposure to the sun ten to fifteen minutes at a time several times a week can also provide Vitamin D. Unfortunately sunscreen prevents this. For children over one year milk and many brands of orange juice are fortified with vitamin D. A child will have to drink four to six cups a day to provide them with the recommend daily amount. The baby’s health care provider may recommend vitamin supplements to make sure they are getting the correct amount to build healthy bones and teeth.
Other nutrients growing babies need are B12, Calcium, Iron and Zinc. A breastfeeding mom needs to make certain she gets adequate sources of these nutrients. Once a baby starts depending more on solid food the parents need to see to it baby is getting the nutrients they need to have healthy bones and organ growth.
The first and best way to get nutrients is through diet. Having a well rounded diet with different food choices is the best method. We have to face it though; many young children are picky eaters. Their palates are not the same as an adult. They may not like certain foods which will provide them what they need. Offer them the foods, but don’t make an issue of it. As children age their taste will change and they will start to like the foods they once splattered across the high chair.
If you are concerned about your child’s nutrition ask your health care providers advice. There are many vitamin and mineral supplements which are gear specifically towards a growing child’s needs. The AAP, The American Academy of Pediatrics, makes constant revisions and recommendations for the nutrition of growing children. Supplements which will fit in with the recommended guidelines will help your child reach optimum health.
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