Nutritional Needs of School Going Children

Children from 6 to 12 years grow very rapidly and can be very active during this stage. So, proper nutritional intake that provides adequate energy and vital nutrients is essential for their well being.

Human body is made up of billions of cells which needs to be well nourished to perform the vital functions. Every cell needs water, oxygen, and nutrients in order to live and work. Children are required to eat varied, balanced diet-containing vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and even some fat that will promote their growth, supply energy and improve their overall health.

Food preferences developed in the formative years of life have a lasting effect on health. Thus, the earlier the parents encourage healthy food choices for their child, better the results. Healthy breakfast for kids, which are nutrient –dense, most often results in better performance at school. A basic understanding of the principles of healthy eating can help them to make sensible choices.

The essentials for optimal health :

Essential Fatty Acids

Fats are extremely important for the cognitive development of children. Vegetable oils, avocados, peanut butter, hummus, nuts and seeds are good sources of fats.

Proteins

For children to grow strong, proteins are a must. The body uses protein to build new cells . Nuts, beans, peas, chicken, beef, fish, turkey etc are a good source of protein. Children should be given around 2–6.5 ounces of protein per day.

Vitamins and Minerals
  • Children need 2-3 cups of milk every day for daily calcium requirements which is vital in building of strong bones and teeth.
  • Iron is important for kids, especially during periods of accelerated growth. Iron contributes to the production of blood and the building of muscles.
  • Vitamin A found in rich quantities in yellow and orange vegetables, dairy products, and liver is important for healthy skin and normal growth.
  • Vitamin B found in meat, poultry, fish, soy, milk, eggs, whole grains, and enriched breads and cereals helps the body produce red blood cells and assists in metabolic activities.
  • Vitamin C found in citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, brussels sprouts, spinach, and broccoli is good for healing and fighting off infection.
  • Vitamin D found in fortified dairy products and in fish oils helps the body form and maintain strong teeth and bones and assists with the absorption of minerals such as calcium.

Fruit and vegetables

They contain fiber as well as a whole myriad of beneficial vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, the B vitamins, potassium and magnesium. 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables of varied colors every day can be a very good option, as healthy snacks for children.

Role of Parents

Parents need to remember that adequate nutrition will help their children develop maximal intelligence (IQ) and well being. Parents need to set a good example by planning healthy meals, keeping a variety of healthy snacks for kids in supply to ensure that their children are given nutritious food to stay healthy and happy.

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