A Checklist Of Essential Vitamins And Minerals For Kids
Friday, 16 August, 2019

A Checklist Of Essential Vitamins And Minerals For Kids

Your child needs a lot of essential vitamins and minerals for growth and development. They include vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and iodine.

 

 

The best way for your child to get enough vitamins and minerals is by eating a wide variety of foods from the five food groups, including:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Grains – quinoa, spelt, kamut, whole wheat, oats, rice, whole grain breads and pastas
  • Dairy – yoghurt, cheese and milk or non-dairy milks with added calcium
  • Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, tofu, legumes (peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas etc), nuts and seeds.

 
Our bodies absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients better when they come from food, rather than from vitamin and mineral supplements, so it important you are feeding your child a healthy balanced diet with plenty of food options.

 
Vitamins

Here is a check list of the vitamins your child needs and the foods that provide them:

  • Vitamin A: Foods that provide Vitamin A include liver, meat, milk, eggs, and orange coloured fruits and vegetables like carrots, squashes, apricots, mangoes and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A is important for eyesight, skin, growth, development and immune function.
     
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Foods that provide Vitamin B1 include fish, meat, yeast extracts, wholemeal breads and grains like quinoa, oats and spelt. Vitamin B1 helps release energy from the foods we eat, so that the nervous system and muscles work properly.
     
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Foods that provide Vitamin B2 include whole milk, yoghurt, meat, cheese, yeast extracts, eggs, wholemeal breads and grains like quinoa, oats and spelt. Vitamin B2 helps release energy from the foods we eat.
     
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Foods that provide Vitamin B3 include meat, fish, chicken, nuts, sunflower seeds, lentils, broccoli, edamame beans, bananas, dried apricots, nectarines, avocadoes and yeast extracts. Vitamin B3 helps release energy from the foods we eat. Vitamin B3 is very important for the normal functioning of the nervous system and is also responsible for skin health as it protects it from harmful sun rays.
     
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Foods that provide Vitamin B6 include meat, chicken, fish, wholegrains, pistachios, seeds and vegetables such as potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, green beans, avocadoes, as well as, mangoes, dried apricots and bananas. Vitamin B6 releases energy from protein and helps with red blood cell production. Another major function of this vitamin is to promote the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. Therefore, it is vital for healthy brain development.
     
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): Foods that provide vitamin B12 include animal foods including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, Swiss cheese and nutritional yeast, and also from some fortified breakfast cereals and soy milk. Vitamin B12 helps with red blood cell production, promotes growth, improves memory and prevents anaemia, a medical condition characterized by a low level of red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen to your vital organs.
      
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Foods that provide vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, red and yellow peppers and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C builds collagen and helps you fight infections and absorb iron from food. It also keeps teeth, bones and gums healthy. Vitamin C can be lost when foods are cooked.
     
  • Vitamin D: Our bodies make most of the vitamin D we need when we get enough direct sunlight on our skin. There are small amounts in oily fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, butter and margarine. Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium to keep bones strong and healthy, as well as, supporting a healthy immune system. It is recommended in the UK to supplement with Vitamin D as we don’t get enough exposure from sunlight.
     
  • Vitamin E: Foods that provide vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, sweet potato, spinach, mangoes, avocado, blackberries, kiwi fruit, apricots raspberries and eggs. Vitamin E boosts your immune system and helps with the development of healthy skin and eyes.
     
  • Vitamin K: Foods that provide vitamin K include green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, lettuce, parsley and spinach, and also from kiwi fruits, avocadoes, blueberries, prunes, pomegranates, eggs, beans and soy. The bacteria in your body also make vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for helping your blood to clot, which prevents us from bleeding excessively.
     
  • Folate (Vitamin B9 / folic acid): Foods that provide folate include from green leafy vegetables, liver, legumes and wholegrain breads and cereals. Folate helps you absorb protein and is responsible for the production of red blood cells and DNA.
     
  • Vitamin B9 also contributes to cell division, growth and brain health. Cooking and processing food – for example, as part of the tinning process – reduces the amount of folate in food.

 

Minerals

Here is a check list of the minerals your child needs and the foods that provide them.

  • Calcium: Foods that provide calcium are from dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt, as well as, fish with edible bones, like sardines and salmon. Tofu and some green leafy vegetables, like kale, spinach and Pak choy contain calcium, along with beans, lentils, poppy, chia and sesame seeds and almonds. Calcium builds strong bones and teeth. As a child or young adult, your growing body makes more bone than it reabsorbs and a child’s calcium needs are comparable to an adults. 
     
  • Iron: Foods that provide iron include meat, liver, chicken, seafood, dried beans, tofu, egg yolks, dried apricots, raisins, molasses, spinach, oats and wholegrain enriched breads. Heme iron, found in meat, is better absorbed by the body than non-heme iron which is the iron found in plant foods and enriched cereals. Vitamin C helps the absorption of non-heme iron. Iron is especially important for the brain and blood, and it also helps carry oxygen around the body.
     
  • Zinc: Foods that provide zinc include meat, chicken, seafood, milk, seeds, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, tofu and wholegrain cereals. Zinc helps with growth, wound healing and a healthy immune system.
      
  • Magnesium: Foods that provide magnesium include green leafy vegetables (Kale, broccoli and spinach), peas, cabbage, asparagus, green beans, figs, avocado, bananas, nuts and seeds, legumes and seafood. Magnesium is important for a developing child as it helps your muscles and nerves function properly; it keeps your heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and also assists in keeping your bones strong.
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