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Any parent knows that children’s development is nothing short of remarkable. Changes continually occur, seemingly overnight, in physical and cognitive development. My six year old boy, pictured above, is so demanding of food (pretty much at all times) that his nickname has become "Munch." Sustaining this rate of development demands the right kind of fuel.
Children require all the essential vitamins and minerals, including antioxidant vitamins, A, C, E, B complex, vitamin D, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, zinc and many trace elements.
The specific role of each nutrient plays into a much wider synergy between all the nutrients that we are yet to fully understand. Suffice to say, a wide and varied diet of fresh healthy produce is always the ambition, reality may require a little more effort!
Let the following information act as a checklist for your store cupboard. In some instances a wide spectrum multi vitamin and mineral and omega oil supplement can be of considerable help.
Calcium and vitamin D ensure healthy bone formation. Dairy, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds and green leafy vegetables are all wonderful sources to include in the diet but fundamentally a child also needs to get outdoors to get enough vitamin D. Many choose to supplement vitamin D from October to spring in colder climates, myself included.
Vitamin A is best known for its role in ensuring healthy eye sight. It also provides immune system support and maintains the health and strength of our mucosal tissues. It is also important for growth and bone development. You will find it in milk, eggs, fish and brightly coloured vegetables.
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant, necessary for protecting cell membranes. It also supports muscle growth, neurological functions and the cardiovascular system. It is abundant in whole-grains, nuts and seeds and cereals.
Vitamin C is another antioxidant with a vital role to play in growth and development, wound healing, tissue repair and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Helpfully, it also reduces allergic reactions. Found in a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables.
B complex vitamins are thought to be most important for cognitive function and supporting the nervous system. They also assist digestive function and enhance protein and carbohydrate digestion and are required for red blood cell formation. B vitamins are particularly concentrated in meat such as turkey but are also found in abundance in lentils, bananas and beans. Sufficient amounts are generally found within a good diet but vegetarians may require supplementation of vitamin B12.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for optimum brain development in infancy and childhood. They support eye and central nervous system functions and are thought to enhance learning and cognitive functions. They are shown to reduce hyperactivity in ADHD sufferers. Omega 3 fatty acids also play a role in reducing the inflammatory responses involved in childhood allergies. Omega 2 fatty acids are found in oily fish and omega-rich eggs.