Scientific evidence suggests that early intervention for a balanced diet is more effective in helping to prevent some diseases related to poor nutrition. In the case of school-age children, a stage in which they begin to recognize their unique potential, a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to stimulate the integral development of their physical and intellectual capacities and to strengthen their immune system.
Parents are the prime example to encourage good eating habits in children. Children tend to do things by imitation, so if they see that their parents or caregivers consume fruits and vegetables frequently, and practice physical activity on a daily basis, they are more likely to be motivated to do so as well.
Nutritional experts highlight that, as school-age children spend more time at home due to the Pandemic parents must promote good eating habits, especially at such an important stage for their development. For this, it is essential to know which are the vitamins and minerals that will help us to support their growth.
How to achieve a balanced diet for children
Vitamins and minerals are necessary components in small amounts but essential for the life of the child, for its development, energy production and general well-being. To achieve this, it is important to include foods that are source of the following nutrients:
Dairy: They provide calcium, an essential mineral for the formation of healthy bones and teeth. It is recommended to include two servings of dairy daily.
Iron: It is part of hemoglobin, responsible for the transport of oxygen in the body, it is involved in immune function and intellectual performance. For this, if children have a low concentration of iron in the blood, their school performance may be affected. Iron is found in red meats and dark-fleshed fish, and can also be found in beans and deep green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.
Zinc: Plays a very important role in the growth and development of children, and contributes to good brain development and function. You can find it in red meat, seafood, and some nuts.
Vitamin D: On the other hand, vitamin D favors the absorption of calcium and regulates the metabolism of phosphorus and calcium, thus allowing good bone formation. It is present in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, trout and sea bass, in butter and egg yolk.
Vitamin C: It is a powerful antioxidant, which helps fight the damage caused by free radicals in the body and is part of the immune system. It also plays an important role in the production of collagen, a protein that is part of blood vessels, ligaments, skin, and bones. To help meet daily vitamin C requirements, fruits such as pineapple, tangerine, orange, grapefruit, kiwi, and berries should be consumed.
Proteins: They are responsible for building, maintaining and repairing body tissues. They can be of animal or vegetable origin. Proteins of animal origin are of high biological value (meat, chicken, fish and shellfish, eggs and dairy), and those of vegetable origin are not of high biological value, but when combined they make a complete protein (for example, corn with beans or rice with lentils, among others).
In this way, by promoting good eating habits as a family and considering which vitamins and minerals benefit school children the most, we will be able to monitor their growth and development, and stimulate their learning during one of the most important stages of their lives.