Nutrition

Nutrition For Your Little One

Nutrition For Your Little One

What Should My Child Be Eating?

So it’s pretty well publicised that women should consume 2000 kcal, on average, a day, and men 2500 kcal. But what about our children, do the same rules apply?

According to the Department of Health there is no single requirement for children aged 5- 10 years old, in fact, dietary requirements not only differ between boys and girls but also within the ages 4-6 and 7-10.

 

Children Aged 4- 6 Years Old

 

Macronutrients 

Macronutrient’s take up three components within the diet; protein, fat and carbohydrates. From the ages of 4 to 6 it is recommended that girls consume an average of 1545kcal, and boys 1715kcal. Of the recommended calories, it is suggested that 35% should come from fat, with less than 11% being saturated, 50% should be carbohydrates and approximately of 19.7g from protein a day.

Currently in the UK there is no dietary reference value for fibre in children, for adults the recommendation stands at 19g/day, based on European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) guidelines. Fibre is not essential but it does provide several benefits for the digestive system, regulating bowel movements and has also been strongly associated to a lower incidence of bowel cancer and coronary heart disease.

Micronutrients

A micronutrient is a vitamin or mineral needed within the body in minuscule amounts. In terms of vitamins, children aged 4-6 should be consuming around 500µg of vitamin A, 30mg of vitamin C and within the 8 different vitamin B complexes: 100µg of folate, 0.7mg of thiamine, 0.8g of riboflavin, 11mg of niacin, 0.9mg of vitamin B6 and 0.8µg of vitamin B12. It is also essential that children get around 900mg of omega 3; the fatty acid responsible for cognitive development. Dietary sources of omega 3 include oily fish, nuts and seeds. Alternatively, you give your little one their daily dose of omega 3 and multi vitamins in a handy mini pack that looks distinctly like sweets!

 

This may sound overwhelming, but a lot of these requirements can be met through a variety of fruit and vegetables, with 40g making one of your child’s 5 a day. If you struggle to get your kids to eat the “good stuff”, Active Kids multivitamin gummies can help meet recommended vitamin intakes required for normal muscle, immune and nervous system function. However, one vitamin that is rarely met through the diet is vitamin D. The main source of vitamin D actually comes from sunlight and UV radiation, however, too much sunlight can be highly damaging to health. Vitamin D supplementation is is therefore recommended by the government for children 5 and under.

 

But what about minerals? Within the diet there are several mineral requirements which grow increasingly important during childhood. One of these minerals is calcium and children are recommended to consume 450mg of calcium a day for optimum bone growth and dental health. Good sources of calcium comes from dairy products, whereby the absorption of calcium can actually be enhanced by vitamin D. So if you’re worried your child may not be getting enough vitamin D and calcium Myvitamins active kids calcium milk vitamin d3 supplements could be a reliable solution.

 

 

Other minerals that children should be consuming is 6.1mg of iron a day, which should come from leafy green vegetables and small quantities of red meat, 120mg of magnesium and 350mg of phosphorus, which can be obtained through fruit and vegetables such as spinach and bananas.

 

Children Aged 7- 10 Years Old

 

Macronutrients

A greater number of calories is require to maintain a healthy weight in children aged 7 to 10, due to an increase in their body mass. Energy requirements for girls are 1940Kcal/day and  for boys, 1970kcal/day. As a general rule of thumb, again 35% of these calories should be fat, 50% carbohydrate and a significantly greater amount of protein at 28.3g/day.

Micronutrients

For vitamins, many requirements for 7 to 10 year olds remain similar as for children 4-6 years old, with slight increases only being present within the vitamin B complexes. For minerals however, iron requirements are increased to 8.7mg/day, calcium to 550mg/day and sodium to 1200mg/day.

 

What Can I Do to Help?

 

Findings from the NDNS indicate children may be over-nourished in the wrong types of foods; consuming too much sugar and saturated fat. There are several steps you can take to ensure your child receives a healthy balanced diet…

Some parents can make the mistake of giving children a diet to high in fruits, vegetables and fibre, missing out essential macronutrients such as fat and protein. It’s vital to remember that 35% of this energy should come from sources of fat such as nuts, dairy and oily fish. Therefore you should aim to feed your child up to 8 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, remembering that a child portion is only 40g compared to an adult 80g portion. Children should also receive a good source of red and lean protein, keeping the intake of processed meat such as ham to a minimum.

Providing a healthy diet for children is an exhausting task for parents, especially since 5 days of the week children consume one of their meals and 2 snacks at school. School dinners can be a worry among parents, however in 2006 there was the introduction of food based standards for children’s lunches which are continuously being improved and updated. Now, primary schools provide healthier lunches that have an increase in fruit and vegetables (60%) and a 32% decrease in sodium.



Amanda Ashman

Amanda Ashman

Writer and expert


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