This nutrient is not only in fortified dairy products and fish oils but also can be absorbed by exposure to sunlight. The light stimulates the vitamin to become active, as it occurs naturally in the skin. Morning sunlight works best for vitamin D. Be sure to wear SPF protection if your child is staying out too long in the sun. Vitamin D helps form and maintain strong teeth, bones, and helps absorb minerals.
This is especially important for a growing child as they are in a stage of accelerated growth. It helps produce blood and build muscles and can be found in beef, turkey, fish, beans, fortified bread, and cereals, among others.
Found in low-fat milk, sardines, yogurt, cheese, and some veggies like broccoli, calcium allows the body to develop and maintain healthy bones and teeth. This is a vital nutrient, which if consumed inadequately, can adversely affect growth and development in childhood. It may also be the cause of weak, fragile, and porous bones (osteoporosis) in later life.
How much healthy food does a growing child need?
- A growing child needs about 1.5 to 4 ounces of whole grains each day, depending on his or her age.
- A growing child needs 1 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 to 2 cups of fruit per day, depending on their age. Fruit juice is acceptable but be sure to check the label to make sure there are no sugar additives.
- A growing child needs milk in their diet. 2 to 3 cups of milk a day is recommended. Yogurt and cheese are also acceptable.
- Children need 2 to 6.5 ounces of protein each day, found in chicken, beef, turkey, and fish, as well as nuts, beans, and peas.