“The greatest wealth is health” is the most common adage that we have been hearing since our childhood, ironically we ignore this wealth of ours. For generations now, mothers have been chasing their children to eat whole meal. Most mothers with kids between 4 -12 years of age keep laying impetus on nutritious food. They are under constant pressure to ensure that their children develop healthy eating habits in order to build an immune system which resists infections spread in the environment.
In today’s time, there are challenges in building a healthy immune system in growing children. This has also been due to environmental factors, intake of junk food, kids not venturing outdoors as much as they used to earlier. It is not only the food intake that affects the overall health of an individual but a plethora of other factors like unpredictable weather, pollution, lifestyle amongst others are few reasons for concern. With winters just around the corner, mothers often find themselves stressing about their child not being able to adapt to the changing weather and at the same time fighting winter illness like Cold, Seasonal flu. Adding to the woes, is the pollution in air that shoot-ups during the festival season owing to incessant bursting of crackers. As the season progresses doctors report of more instances of chronic respiratory infections among children. The pollution surely is a problem but what also adds to it is the low immunity level to fight these infections resulting in kids falling sick frequently.
Immune system helps us to protect the body from various viruses, bacteria or any other foreign substance. It is important to boost your resistance level which subsequently fights diseases or reduces susceptibility to cold, flu amongst others which prevents the extra trip to the doctor’s clinic. It is imperative that every mother of a growing child asks herself, “Am I doing enough to build my child’s immunity and overall inner strength?”
|Micro Nutrients||Importance in Growing Children between the age 4 – 12 years|
|Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol)||Supports bone development|
|Vitamin A (Retinol)||An Antioxidant which regulates the multiplication & differentiation of keratinocytes|
|Vitamin B6, B9, B12B6 – (Pyridoxine)|
B9 – (Folic Acid)
|These B Complex vitamins play a crucial role in immune-nutritionHelps protect from Infections and foreign bodies|
Essential for synthesis and repair of DNA & RNA required for cell multiplication
Important for immune system regulation
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)||Is an essential antioxidant that produces Collagen (main protein for skin) and strengthens the skinImproves absorption of Iron|
|Zinc||Normal development and function of cell-mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and natural killer cells. Improves gut function|
|Iron||Fundamental element for the normal development of immune systemEssential element for blood formation and maintains Hemoglobin levels in the body|
To answer the question of every mother, building a powerful immune system and to make it an ongoing process in children is the need of the hour. Providing nutrition with intake of fresh fruits, vegetables and super foods may not always suffice a growing child’s need. It may require an extra dose of micronutrients to be fed to the child. Many a times the conventional food may not be sufficient due to irregularity as parents might miss out on feeding adequate quantity which results in shortage of receiving 100% RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), the void needs to be filled with micro-nutrients.
RDA is the estimated amount of a nutrient (or calories) per day considered necessary for the maintenance of good health by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council/ National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Niti Desai, Consultant Nutritionist shares her views “Growing kids between the age group of 4 to 12 need complete nutrition as these are the foundation years of their health. It is necessary that they receive 100% RDA of the vitamins and micronutrients intake during this period. The regular food may often fail to provide adequate amounts because very often children have limited choices when it comes to vegetables and fruits. Also many children do not have proper breakfast before going to school and have an unsupervised school lunch (one of the main meals). Fussy eaters are a huge challenge and to make sure they get complete nutrition in the limited food they consume puts a lot of pressure on the mothers. Supplements can fill this gap and provide adequate micro nutrients and vitamins so that the children are able to meet the recommended daily requirements and achieve their full growth potential”
Dr. Swati Bhave, renowned pediatrician and Former President of Indian Association of Pediatricians (IAP), says, “Micro-nutrients are extremely important for overall health of a child. Deficiencies can lead various illnesses and can affect the overall growth including formation of healthy bones, teeth and hormone production. Micro- nutrients’ are also important in the development of immunity which is the body’s defense mechanism for killing pathogens and preventing illnesses. Other factors that boost immunity are adequate sleep, regular physical activity, positive mental status and minimal stress. Today’s children are mainly eating processed food which is high in salt sugar and fat which is very low in healthy nutrients. Children need to have fresh unprocessed food .If a child does not have healthy and adequate diet, then there will be need of supplements, to provide adequate micro nutrients and vitamins so that the children are able to meet the recommended daily requirements and achieve their full growth potential and have adequate immune function.”
Kids need energy to perform daily tasks given they engage in various extra-curricular activities apart from school and hence a stronger immunity that will shield them from ailments, is of utmost importance. Vitamins like A,C,E, Zinc and Iron contribute to body’s natural defenses on three levels- supporting physical barriers, cellular immunity and antibody production thereby boosting your child’s defense system. These nutrients also complete the average daily level intake amongst kids to build stronger Immunity and overall strength. Now it’s for you to decide how will you protect you children and provide them with 100% RDA and build stronger immunity