Good childhood nutrition holds the key to improving physical and mental well-being and preventing future illnesses and health problems. Furthermore, if a child has positive habits, a relationship with fresh and healthy ingredients or contact with cooking from a young age , it will be easier for him or her to follow a balanced diet in adulthood. Do you still have many doubts? We solve some of them for you.

Some recommendations to avoid nutritional deficiencies in children are to seek a good balance between the main macronutrients - proteins, carbohydrates and fats -, include at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, eliminate ultra-processed foods, refined sugars as much as possible, trans fats and fried foods, or opt for fresh, local and seasonal foods. The more colors there are inside the plate, the better.

It is also essential to know the main false myths that exist regarding infant nutrition . For example, believing that eggs and dairy products are bad or getting carried away by unverified information on social networks such as Instagram or TikTok.

We have been able to resolve doubts about nutritional deficiencies in children with Cristina Barranco, nutritionist dietician in Palma de Mallorca. In addition to having a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, she has a postgraduate degree specializing in Microbiota and digestive, functional and inflammatory, intestinal pathologies, allergies and intolerances, and is a university expert in Sports Nutrition.

“More than 30 micronutrients are essential for human health and for the proper growth and development of children. They are all vitamins and minerals that we have available in food,” explains Cristina to Cucamenta.

Most common micronutrient deficiencies in children

Nutritional deficiencies in children

The most common micronutrient deficiencies in the little ones in the house are those of vitamin A, iodine and iron due to the low intake of legumes, vegetables and fruits , says Cristina Barranco.

In addition, the EsNuPI (Nutritional Study in the Spanish Child Population) published in the journal Nutrients in 2020 also points out that Spanish children need to improve their intake of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D , essential components during the stages of growth and development.

In the case of children under 3 years of age, the data indicate that their diet is excessive in proteins of animal origin and poor in fish, vegetables and fruits. In this age segment, the most common deficiency is iron - present in meat, legumes, tofu or eggs - as well as calcium , which can be low in the first stage of childhood. This mineral is present in dairy products, oily fish, soy, algae, spinach or broccoli.

Although vitamin D is present in mushrooms, meats, shellfish and fish, organ meats, butter or eggs, the sun is the main source of this nutrient : it is recommended that children be able to spend at least 20 minutes a day outdoors and exposed to sunlight. natural light.

Other studies point to the importance of increasing DHA intake in early childhood.

Some keys

  • Combine foods rich in iron - such as legumes, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts or green leafy vegetables - with foods rich in vitamin C - such as peppers, tomatoes or citrus fruits - to ensure better absorption. Remember that iron is essential in neuronal development or the immune system, as well as to avoid iron deficiency anemia.

  • To have a sufficient level of calcium, the diet must be rich in fruits and vegetables. You can also include two servings of dairy products a day.

  • Good daily sun exposure guarantees the supply of vitamin D and also stimulates outdoor exercise , key to combating a sedentary lifestyle, promoting socialization and encouraging contact with nature.

How to get Spanish children to eat more fruits, legumes and vegetables

Children's food

In this aspect, Cristina Barranco also gives us some clues. “Families are the mirror of their children and that is why it is very important that everyone at home has the same eating pattern,” emphasizes the specialist.

“The ideal is to introduce fruits and vegetables from an early age, but it is true that there are already families that have established habits and that we cannot go from 0 to 100 immediately, so we could make the change through some guidelines to introduce vegetables and other foods. ”.

A great trick that the nutritionist provides is to resort to trompe l'oeil or change the appearance of the dishes by presenting the food in a fun way. It is possible to camouflage some vegetables - to accustom the palate - to more attractive foods such as hamburgers with meat and vegetables, zucchini fingers or other vegetables, cauliflower croquettes, chickpea flour-based pizzas and a long etcetera.

Bet on creativity, fresh herbs and spices, asking the little ones in the house about their favorite flavors.


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