11 of the Best Nutrients for Your Growing Child

Many parents don’t have doubts about whether their kids are getting enough to eat. The question really boils down to the matter of quality, not quantity. If they’re getting a lot of empty calories and plenty of harmful chemical additives to boot, then more is definitely less.

Nutrient Dense Diet

Young children need complete balanced nutrition. Their diet should focus on nutrients essential to early childhood growth and development. Which ones are these and how do you make sure that your kids sufficiently source them from the meals you provide?

Here are the 11 nutrients that your children should be getting daily.

1.      Carbohydrates

Cutting out the carbs may be trendy among dieters, but you really shouldn’t apply this eating philosophy to children.

Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy, which their active little bodies definitely need. These nutrients also help the body use fat and protein to build and repair tissue.

Carbs come in the form of sugar, starch, and fiber. To keep your kids’ diet wholesome, avoid the sugar carbohydrates.

Which foods contain a high level of starchy and fibrous carbs in them?

  • Rice
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Breads
  • Crackers
  • Potatoes

2.      Protein

Protein is necessary for building cells and breaking down food into energy. It collaborates with carbohydrates to accomplish these functions. It also helps the body fight infection and carry oxygen.

What are the good sources of protein?

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Beans
  • Nuts

3.      Fats

It may not be the nicest word in the world of diet, but fats are an important nutrient, especially for children. They provide energy as well as help the body use the other nutrients it needs.

Where can you source high levels of fats?

  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Cooking oils

4.      Calcium

Calcium is absolutely essential for building strong bones and healthy teeth. Unfortunately, about a third of kids these days aren’t getting enough.

Take note that calcium deficiency could interfere with children’s growth and development as well as increase risk of osteoporosis when they’re older, so you should be vigilant in ensuring that your kids get plenty of calcium on a daily basis.

A lot of calcium-rich foods also contain vitamin D. These two nutrients work hand in hand to build healthy bones.

What are the best calcium-rich foods and calcium-fortified products?

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Juice
  • Egg yolks
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified waffles
  • Fortified soy products

5.      Iron

Iron plays a huge role in brain development, which means that a chronic deficit can lead to learning disabilities and behavior problems. Iron also helps the red blood cells carry oxygen to the different cells all over the body.

To support your children’s cognitive development, you need to pay special attention to your their iron intake. What are its best sources?

  • Red meats
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts
  • Soy products
  • Raisins
  • Whole grains
  • Fortified cereals

6.      Potassium

Potassium is an often overlooked nutrient, but its importance cannot be stressed enough. It plays an important role in maintaining blood pressure and fluid balance. It also helps muscle contraction, which is essential to movement and other body functions such as posture, heat production, and joint stability.

Where can you source high levels of potassium?

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Apricots
  • Tomatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • White and sweet potatoes
  • Fish like halibut and cod

7.      Fiber

Although fiber isn’t digested, it is still an important component in children’s diet. It fills them up and then helps them eliminate regularly. Fiber is also helpful in protecting against different chronic diseases.

The recommendation is that kids get 19 to 25 grams of fiber a day. It’s not always easy to keep track of amounts consumed, so a good rule of thumb to follow is to include one fiber-rich food at every meal and snack time.

What are the best sources of fiber?

  • Fruits
  • Whole grains (cereal, pasta, bread, oatmeal, popcorn, etc.)
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Green peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Sweet potatoes

8.      Folate

Folate is one of the more known B vitamins and is associated with healthy cell growth and development. A deficiency could cause anemia, so make sure your children get a sufficient supply of folate.

Where can you source folate?

  • Whole grains
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Black and kidney beans

9.      Vitamin A

Long known for promoting healthy eyesight, vitamin A offers other benefits as well, including healthy skin, infection prevention, and growth support.

Which foods contain lots of vitamin A?

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Apricots
  • Egg yolks
  • Fish oils

10. Vitamin C

The virtues of vitamin C cannot be extolled enough. It boosts the immune system, strengthens the walls of blood vessels, holds the body’s cells together, supports the body’s self-healing properties, and helps build strong bones and teeth.

Your child shouldn’t miss out on this important nutrient. What are good sources?

  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach

11. Vitamin E

Another overlooked but powerful antioxidant is vitamin E. It protects cells from damage. It also strengthens immunity as well as keeps eyes and skin healthy.

Which foods offer high levels of vitamin E?

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ
  • Spinach

Nutrient-Packed Grocery List

With the different list of nutrient sources, you now have an idea of which foods offer the most nutrients. This will help guide you in writing down your shopping list. You’ll feel a lot better knowing that you’re serving up the nutrients that are most beneficial to your children.