Kids need nutrients for healthy teeth, bones

Published On: Jan 15 2013 12:24:59 PM PST   Updated On: Jan 31 2013 11:25:08 AM PST

By Cara Finnegan, Pure Matters

Most parents know that children need vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. But knowing exactly what nutrients and how much they need of each is not always easy. Learning a bit more about vitamins and minerals can help ensure your kids are on the right nutritional track.

Despite parents’ best efforts, kids may not always get all the vitamins and minerals they need. For example, a 2007 study conducted by researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that more than half of children and adolescents who are otherwise healthy could be lacking in vitamin D. This deficiency affects the absorption of calcium and can lead to unhealthy bones, rickets, and even osteoporosis. The study looked at children between ages 6 and 21 and their dietary intake and body mass. The research revealed that 55 percent of children had an inadequate amount of vitamin D.

To make sure your kids are getting the full range of nutrients that they need, be sure to offer your children a variety of foods. Start by taking a closer look at the foods your kids eat on a regular basis.

Understand the vitamin alphabet

The nutrition labels on food packaging can show you which foods contain the proper nutrients. Below is a breakdown of the essential vitamins and minerals that kids and teens need for different areas of growth and where to find them:

Spelling out a good diet

Because the body cannot naturally produce all the necessary vitamins and minerals, it is important to ensure that kids get these vital building blocks in the foods they eat. A well-balanced diet is typically all it takes to guarantee that kids and teens are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals. But how much of everything do they need?

The USDA recommends that parents use My Pyramid for children as a guideline for how much of certain foods kids and adolescents need for a healthy diet, taking vitamins and minerals into consideration. Because vitamin deficiencies may not be obvious, following the recommendations can help eliminate worries about whether your children are receiving appropriate nutrients.

Need a vitamin?

For children and teens with highly selective diets, such as vegetarianism or a dairy-free diet, and for children with erratic eating patterns, a health care provider may recommend a daily supplement, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. Over-the-counter vitamin supplements are typically safe and come in chewable forms in case your child has difficulty swallowing. Remember, however, that higher-than-­recommended dosages of supplements can cause problems. For example, giving high doses of vitamin C in hopes of preventing colds and the flu can cause a child to have nausea, diarrhea, and cramps.

Children’s vitamins and supplements may come in fun colors and shapes, but they are not candy. Make sure you’ve told your child that vitamins are a kind of medicine -- not a snack. Follow label instructions about serving size and dosage instructions. Ask you health care provider for advice if you have questions about supplements. Keep vitamins and supplements out of the reach of children and make sure the items are stored in child-proof containers.

Source: http://resources.purematters.com/diet-nutrition/healthy-eating/kids-need-their-nutrients