Give An Essential Minerals Rich Diet to Your Child

It is important for children to consume vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from food, as these nutrients are absorbed better than from supplements. Here is a list of essential vitamins and the foods that provide them:

  • Vitamin A: liver, meat, milk, eggs, carrots, squashes, apricots, mangoes, and sweet potatoes. It is important for eyesight, skin, growth, development and immune function.
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): fish, meat, yeast extracts, wholemeal breads and grains like quinoa, oats, and spelt. Helps release energy from food and supports the nervous system and muscles.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): whole milk, yoghurt, meat, cheese, yeast extracts, eggs, wholemeal breads and grains like quinoa, oats, and spelt. Helps release energy from food.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): meat, fish, chicken, nuts, sunflower seeds, lentils, broccoli, edamame beans, bananas, dried apricots, nectarines, avocados, and yeast extracts. Helps release energy from food and is important for the normal functioning of the nervous system and skin health.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): meat, chicken, fish, whole grains, pistachios, seeds, potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, green beans, avocados, mangoes, dried apricots, and bananas. Releases energy from protein, helps with red blood cell production, and promotes neurotransmitter production in the brain.
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): animal foods such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, Swiss cheese, nutritional yeast, fortified breakfast cereals, and soy milk. Helps with red blood cell production, growth, memory, and prevents anaemia.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, red and yellow peppers, sweet potatoes. Builds collagen, helps fight infections, absorbs iron from food, and keeps teeth, bones, and gums healthy.
  • Vitamin D: produced by the body with enough direct sunlight and present in oily fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, butter, and margarine. Helps absorb calcium for strong bones and supports the immune system. Supplementation is recommended in India and globally as there is limited exposure to sunlight.
  • Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, sweet potato, spinach, mangoes, avocado, blackberries, kiwi fruit, apricots, raspberries, and eggs. Boosts the immune system and helps with skin and eye development.
  • Vitamin K: green leafy vegetables, kiwi fruits, avocados, blueberries, prunes, pomegranates, eggs, beans, soy, and made by body bacteria. Reduces excessive bleeding and aids in blood clotting.
  • Folate (Vitamin B9 / folic acid): green leafy vegetables, liver, legumes, and wholegrain breads and cereals. Helps absorb protein, produces red blood cells and DNA, and contributes to cell division, growth, and brain health. Folate is reduced when food is cooked or processed. It is important for pregnant women to protect the new-born from some severe conditions.

Here is a list of essential minerals and the foods that provide them:

  • Calcium: dairy products, fish with edible bones, tofu, green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, poppy, chia, and sesame seeds, and almonds. Builds strong bones and teeth. Children need the same amount as adults for growth.
  • Iron: Iron-rich foods include meat, liver, poultry, seafood, beans, tofu, egg yolks, dried fruit, molasses, spinach, oats, and whole grain enriched breads. The body absorbs heme iron, found in meat, better than non-heme iron found in plant-based foods and fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps absorb non-heme iron. Iron is vital for brain and blood health, as well as carrying oxygen throughout the body.
  • Zinc: Zinc-rich foods include meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, seeds, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, and whole grain cereals. Zinc contributes to growth, wound healing, and a strong immune system.
  • Magnesium: Foods high in magnesium include leafy greens (kale, broccoli, and spinach), peas, cabbage, asparagus, green beans, figs, avocado, bananas, nuts and seeds, legumes, and seafood. Magnesium is important for children's development, as it helps muscles and nerves function properly, maintains heart rhythm, supports a healthy immune system, and helps keep bones strong.
Dr. Minal Singh
Executive Consultant
Department of Neonatology & Paediatrics
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