Children need various nutrients for their overall development and avoid any sort of nutritional disease. Certain micronutrients or vitamins and minerals don’t get produced in the body itself and are needed to be taken from outside by the kids through their diet.

Poor nutritional diet can lead to nutritional deficiency in kids. It is essential to take the needed amount of nutrients to prevent malnutrition or nutritional deficiency. Deficiency also may occur when the body is unable to absorb particular nutrients correctly. Such nutritional deficiencies may also createvarious health issues likedelayed speech, frequent colds & coughs, dry skin/hair, crowding of teeth, increased crankiness, obesity, inhibited growth, digestion-related issues, skin-issues and poor bone development etc.


Common Nutritional Deficiencies Found in Children

The most common nutrient deficienciesin kids are deficiency of Vit D, Vit B, Iron, Zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, potassium and fibre. Let’s have a detailed analysis of a few common nutritional deficiencies found in kids-

  1. Iron Deficiency: According to researchers, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in children. Iron contains an important component named haemoglobin; it is a sort of protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest part of the body. Babies who lack enough iron in their bodies are usually suggested to have additional iron supplements to fulfil their deficiency.

Ideal Iron Intake-Ideal iron intake for kids belonging to different age groups are as follows-

  • Infants (7–12 months) - 11 mg/day
  • Toddlers (1–3 years) - 7 mg/day
  • Kids (4–8 years) - 10 mg/day
  • Kids (9–13 years) - 8 mg/day

Food Sources-For vegetarians, common iron food sources are beans, lentils, dark green leafy, iron-fortified cereals, peas, dried fruits, pasta and bread. Non-vegetarians can replenish their iron requirements by eating red meat, poultry food, pork and seafood.

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

When your child lacks enough iron in the body, he or she may face issues like foggy thinking, lethargy, loss of appetite, hair loss, pale skin, fragile nails and irritability. Lack of timely treatment can even cause anaemia that further causes learning problems, delay in growth, lessened cognitive functioning etc.

  1. Vitamin D Deficiency: Vitamin D is another essential vitamin that is mandatory for the absorption of several nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphate. It is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is essential to have adequate vitamin D for ideal bone growth, a strong immune system and a healthy heart.

Ideal Vitamin D Intake-Ideal Vitamin D intake for kids belonging to different age groups are as follows-

  • Kids < 1 year- 400 IU/day
  • Kids> 1 year- 600 IU/day

Food Sources- Foods that are natural sources of vitamin D for non-vegetarians are fatty fish and fish oils. On the other hand, vegetarians can have a good amount of Vitamin D in milk, milk alternatives, dairy products, cereals and juices. Sunlight is also a good source of Vitamin D for kids.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Muscle cramping or bone pain are a few common indications of vitamin D deficiency. When taken lightly, vitamin D deficiency can lead to growth impairment, bone softening as well as skeletal deformities. In older children, vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of bone fractures.

  1. Zinc Deficiency: Zinc is considered important for a kid’s ideal growth, strong immunity, cognitive development, digestive system and sex hormonal development.

Ideal Zinc Intake- Ideal zinc intake for kids belonging to different age groups are-

  • <6 months- 2mg
  • 7-12 months- 3mg
  • 1-3 years- 3mg
  • 4-8 years- 5mg
  • 9-13- 8 mg

Food Sources- Natural food sources for zinc are various kinds of animal foods such as poultry, meats, eggs, dairy products, shellfish etc. Vegetarians can find zinc in certain foods like seeds, nuts, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals and beans for fulfilling zinc requirements.

Symptoms of a zinc deficiency

When your child faces cold or flu frequently, this can be an indication of zinc deficiency. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency are slow wound healing, learning problems, impaired memory, restricted growth and bad concentration.

  1. Calcium Deficiency- Calcium is a sort of mineral that is responsible for a child's bone growth, healthy heart and muscle functioning. A child consuming adequate calcium in their childhood later have strong and healthy bones in adulthood.

Ideal Calcium Intake-Babies less than 6 months need 200 mg to 260 mg of calcium/day. Older kids have different calcium requirements in different age-

1-3 years-700 mg/day

4-8 years-1,000/day

9-18 years-1,300 mg/day

Food Sources-Milk and milk products are the main sources of calcium for kids. Other sources are dark leafy green vegetables, tofu, fish, seeds, nuts, chickpeas, white beans and fortified cereals.

Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency-

There are specific symptoms that indicate calcium deficiency in kids, still few general symptoms for calcium deficiency are dry skin, brittle nails, dry hair and muscle cramps. When not treated on time, calcium deficiency can result in severe issues like rickets, inappropriate growth, deteriorated tooth enamel and seizures.

  1. Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential nutrientsthat play a vital role in producing healthy red blood cells, cognitive development, a strong immune system and producing energy from food. Usually, kids who are entirely dependent on a plant-based diet with no extra B12 supplementation are found Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Ideal Vitamin B12 Intake-Following is the Vitamin B12 requirements for the kids belonging to different ages-

  • Below 6 years- 0.4 mcg/day
  • 7-12 months-0.5 mcg/day
  • 1-3 years-0.9 mcg/day
  • 4-8 years-1.2 mcg/day
  • 9-13 years-1.8mcg/day

Food Sources-Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal foods such as meat, egg, dairy products. Usually, plant-based foods lack enough Vitamin B12, until they are fortified with it.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency-As per studies, vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms in kids are relatively unprecise like delay in development, weakness, irritability, poor appetite and poor growth. Early indications of Vitamin B12 deficiency are weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, redness in the lining of the mouth and gastrointestinal issues.

Final Words

Inadequate vitamins and minerals intake can result in improper child growth and other health issues. Essential vitamins and minerals help in the physical and cognitive development of a child. On another hand, nutritional deficiencies, when taken lightly can lead to other chronic health problems in children in the long term. Lack of essential vitamins can also lead to behavioural problems in children.