Let’s face it, parents. On average, children are not easy contenders when it comes to food. A lot of kids are picky eaters or tend to eat only one thing. It also doesn’t help that many foods today are more fatty, sugary and processed than ever before. Food companies know what appeals to children, and parents have to constantly battle it. With obesity and other diet-related issues becoming a growing problem, parents need to reconsider their kids’ food choices now more than ever. Many kids are consuming empty calories nowadays — food to keep them full but lacking nutrition. What nutrients could your child be missing in his or her diet?
Calcium is probably one of the most important nutrients that kids need but do not get enough of. Calcium is not only good for building healthy bones and teeth, it also plays a vital role in the blood stream by helping to regulate heart rhythm, blood clotting and muscle function.
Common sources: milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, dry cereals, kale, calcium-fortified orange juice, collard greens or sesame seeds.
Fiber is essential in healthy bowel movements, preventing constipation (which is actually a growing issue) and helping kids feel fuller. It can also help fight cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease in the long run.
Common sources: beans, most fruits and vegetables, or whole-grain bread/pasta/cereal.
Fat in foods isn’t always a bad thing. When it comes from good sources, fat provides many nutritional benefits. It helps in brain and nerve growth, healthy metabolism, blood clotting, lowering blood cholesterol and letting the body absorb vitamins.
Common sources: vegetable oils (olive, canola, safflower, corn, soy, etc.), fish, chicken, flaxseeds or walnuts.
Potassium can be found naturally in almost all foods. It ensures normal heart and muscle function, maintains fluid balance, participates in energy production and promotes strong bones.
Common sources: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and fresh (cooked) meats and seafood.
Iron helps the body make red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the body, and it helps children grow. Without it, kids can get anemia.
Common sources: red meat, beans, green leafy vegetables, tuna, eggs or iron-fortified cereals.
Magnesium is involved in about 300 bodily functions responsible for keeping kids going and growing. It helps maintain normal muscle, nerve and heart function; contributes to a strong immune system; stimulates energy production; and boosts bone health.
Common sources: dark/green/leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, milk or beans.
Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only hospital in the area completely dedicated to the care and well-being of children. At CHOG, we care enough to ensure that your child gets the attention he or she deserves in order to receive a proper diagnosis. CHOG cares about children. For more information about CHOG, please visit our website at augustahealth.org/chog or call 706-721-KIDS (5437).
Sources: WebMD, Parents in Action, Parenting