Important nutrients for active kids
Kids burn calories and nutrients nearly as fast as hummingbirds. Keep them fueled with what they need for optimum energy and health with these tips.
Although water isn’t a nutrient, it is vitally important to your child’s health. Water helps to keep the body cool during activity and keeps the nutrients moving through the body so that they can get where they need to go. Children have high fluid needs and they tend to ignore the early signs of thirst.
Encourage your children to drink plenty of water as well as other liquids. Some ways to do this are to:
- Keep BPA-free water bottles in the refrigerator.
- Fill a pitcher with water and add orange slices or slices of other fresh fruit. Chill for a couple of hours for a refreshing, all-natural drink.
- Serve water with meals by putting a full pitcher on the table to encourage your family to refill their glasses.
- Make sure you are setting a good example by drinking lots of water.
Calories might seem like the enemy to you, but elementary-age children need about 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day to maintain health, energy and growth. Those calories should be supplied by healthy foods, not candy and a burger from the local fast food place.
Iron is the most common deficiency seen among children in the U.S. This may be due to an increase in low iron meats like hot dogs, lunch meat and fast foods. Make sure that your child gets plenty of iron by serving plenty of lean red meats, chicken, turkey and dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach.
Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth, especially during childhood when the body is growing so fast. Although milk and dairy products are a good source of calcium, it can also be found in broccoli, kale, spinach, collard greens, beans, figs and oranges.
Other vitamins and minerals
Other vitamins and minerals are just as important to maintain energy and a healthy immune system. The best way to meet all of your children’s nutritional needs is to encourage them to eat a variety of healthy foods every day.
Children are often resistant to new tastes and textures, and may not want to eat any foods that are not on their list of favorites. Rather than catering to their limited palates, give them the opportunity to try new things regularly -- maybe requiring just one bite of an unfamiliar flavor. If you have a juicer or can buy a mixed vegetable and fruit juice, you may be able to sneak in some nutrients they wouldn’t choose to eat on their own.
Limiting the amount of junk food available to them will help your kids make healthy food choices and develop good eating habits that will last a lifetime.
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