Essential Vitamins & Minerals for Kids:
Part Two – Micronutrients
In our blog article last week, we took a look at the essential macronutrients that children need. Now, we are taking the topic even deeper…
While macronutrients form the basic building blocks of children’s bodies, there are many smaller nutrients at play – the micronutrients.
These little nutrients may be smaller, but they are no less essential!
The following micronutrients are the main under-cover helpers supporting your child’s journey from birth through to adulthood.
Bone and Teeth-Building Nutrients
Children’s skeletons grow at a very rapid rate. Young girls reach 90% of their peak bone mass by the age of 18, with boys reaching theirs by the age of 20.
It is easy to see why childhood and adolescence are the best times to “invest” in bone health!
The vital bone-forming nutrients are calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D (with calcium famously being the most important of these).
Good foods for bone growth include:
- Nuts (especially almonds)
- Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach and broccoli
- Plant-based milks that have been fortified with calcium
- Soya beans and tofu
The following Nutrivita products are also good sources of these nutrients:
- The Green Machine (green leafy veggies are a great source of calcium, zinc and magnesium – all the bone-building goodness!)
- Nutrivita’s Almond Milk (packing in a whopping 100mg of calcium – about 10% of your child’s daily needs)
NB: It is also very important for your kids to spend time playing in natural sunlight, as this encourages their bodies to make vitamin D, which helps their bones to grow strong!
Healthy Blood and Circulation
Red blood cells transport oxygen around the body, helping all the organs to function as they should.
A deficiency of healthy red blood cells is commonly known as anaemia, which has the potential to prevent your child from growing well.
The building blocks for healthy red blood cells are iron, folate and vitamin B12. These micronutrients can be found in:
- Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach and Swiss chard)
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas and beans)
- Cashew nuts
- Seeds (linseeds, pumpkin, hemp and chia)
- Quinoa and fortified cereals
Tips for preventing anaemia in vegan kids:
- Monitor their blood iron levels regularly (plant-sourced iron is not as easily absorbed)
- Include foods that are fortified with vitamin B12 (naturally only found in animal products)
- Consider supplementing your whole family with vitamin B12 (once again, under your doctor’s guidance)
Additional Fun Fact: Nutrivita’s Green Machine juice is a fun way to introduce iron-packed greens to your kids.
Healthy Skin, Eyes and Immunity
The acronym “A.C.E” can be used to remember these essential vitamins.
Vitamin A (the star of the show when it comes to eyesight and healthy skin) can be found in the following foods:
- Orange-coloured vegetables (carrots, orange sweet potato, butternut and pumpkin)
Vitamin C (the driver of a powerful immune system) can be found in these immune-boosting foods:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, naartjies, clementines and grapefruit)
- Tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, papaya and kiwi)
- Cabbage and its related veggies (broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts)
- Bell peppers
Vitamin E (the essential antioxidant that assists both vitamin A and C in their quests) can be found abundantly in:
- Vegetable oils (sunflower and canola)
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts)
- Sunflower seeds
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale and broccoli)
The “A.C.E.” vitamins can be found in most of Nutrivita’s kid-friendly juices – just take your pick! You could even try a different coloured juice on different week days (take a look at our previous blog article on the Colours of the Rainbow for more tips on this).
More Practical Tips for Nourishing Your Kids
- Be sneaky with the veggies – grate them into your kid’s favourite meals or create tasty smoothies and juices with them.
- Colour is key – kids get excited about colour, so use this to your (and their) advantage!
- Keep them hydrated – regularly offer your kids water, herbal teas and fresh fruit/veggie juices.
- Include your kids in the kitchen – the curiosity will encourage them to try scary foods and they might just gain a love for healthy cooking in the process.
- Most importantly: be a living example for your kids (they look up to you as a role model and will mimic your eating habits).
Written by our Registered Dietitian, Vicki Fischer.
Photography by www.neverbeforemedia.co.za