We would all like to feed our families only the healthiest and freshest foods every meal, every day, but that’s not always possible. Whether you end up grabbing fast food a few nights a week or cook all your meals at home, your family still may not be getting all the nutrients they need. Here’s your guide to the three most important nutrients your young ones may be missing.
Mums have been telling their kids to drink their milk for a reason. Kids ages nine to 18 need 1300 milligrams of calcium every day, and studies show that the majority miss out on this vital nutrient on a regular basis. Kids are building the bones they will be stuck with for the rest of their lives, so they need the vitamins to grow strong and healthy bones. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men later in life, so getting enough calcium is especially important for girls. If anyone in your family has osteoporosis, you and your children have an increased risk.
Make sure your kids get calcium with supplements and real foods, such as yogurt and milk. Coconut and almond milk are great alternatives if your kids are lactose intolerant or your teenagers are looking to reduce acne.
Getting enough protein is another huge factor in whether your kids are healthy and happy. One of the best ways to avoid tantrums, especially in public, is to make sure their bellies are full of protein. Even more importantly, their bodies use protein to build cells, fight off infection, boost immunity and carry oxygen.
It can be hard to find protein in common snacks like fruit, pretzels and cereal, so look for it in unexpected places, like Greek yogurt and nuts. The healthiest nuts for growing minds and bodies are walnuts, pistachios and almonds, according to Healthy Eating for Families. Be wary of the high salt content of regular nuts and high sugar content of popular nut butters. You can always make your own nut butters with your blender or food processor to save them the extra sugar and save you some serious money (those nut butters are pricey – I know, I am hooked to them!). Kids need 3 to 5 ounces of protein per day for children 2- to 8-years-old, or 5 to 8 ounces for kids ages 10 to 14.
Infants and teens are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency, which is vital to basic organ function. Depending on their ages, kids need anywhere between 7 and 11 milligrams of iron. Menstruating females and athletes typically need more as they deplete their bodies of the nutrient.
Serve them iron-rich foods, such as salmon, tuna, red meat and dark poultry, paired with vitamin C to help aid in absorption. Don’t go overboard with iron, though, as too much can have adverse health effects. Consult your doctor before taking supplements or watch their intake carefully.
Get It Delivered
With the hustle and bustle of family life, it’s easy to put the health food store and cooking nutritious recipes at the bottom of the list. Check out the blogs and social media pages from health-conscious companies to get ideas for your next meal. You also can avoid making that extra trip to the store (or foregoing it all together) by having supplements sent right to your home.