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-
Ideal Iron Intake-Ideal iron intake for kids belonging to different age groups are as follows-
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.
Ideal Vitamin D Intake-Ideal Vitamin D intake for kids belonging to different age groups are as follows-
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.
Ideal Zinc Intake- Ideal zinc intake for kids belonging to different age groups are-
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.
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
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.
Ideal Vitamin B12 Intake-Following is the Vitamin B12 requirements for the kids belonging to different ages-
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.
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.