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Child and Nutrition



Nutrition aspects for childrens



We often heard the phrase 'balanced diet' especially during pregnancy and for the growing children. This term balanced diet only means that you should have a good balance of body-building proteins, energy- giving carbohydrates and fats, enough minerals like iron and calcium, and all the vitamins.

If we take a good mixture of cereals like wheat or rice, dals, legumes, green vegetables, fruits, milk or milk products your diet is automatically balanced. The non-vegetarians can include some meat, fish and eggs for proteins and have less milk or curd. Even if one does not take milk, meat or fish, but eats enough dals,groundnuts or some other nuts, there cannot be a deficiency of proteins in the diet. Vegetable proteins, however, are not of the same quality as those of meat, fish or milk, and so it is better for the vegetarians to include some milk and milk products like curd or cheese in the diet.

Calories :

The measure of energy is called as calories. Energy is required for growth and activity and this energy value of foods is usually measured in calories, or more strictly in kilocalories (Kcal).

A baby needs 120 calories per kg. of body weight per day. On an average a baby of 1 to 2 years needs 1000 calories daily. This is about half of what the mother eats. This may sound incredible, but is nonetheless true.
The bulk of ordinary Indian diet presents a problem. An adult can consume 4 times the food as compared to a child of 2 years, though his needs are only double that of the child. After the age of 1 year an approximation to the child’s energy needs can be made by adding 100 calories for every year of his life; for example a child of 5 years needs 1400 calories daily.

Fats :

Fats are the substances that are derived from animal or plant sources, and supply 9 calories per gm compared to 4 calories per gm. of carbohydrates and proteins. Usually, the more affluent people take too much fat in their diet, while the not-so-well-off do not take enough.

Iron and Calcium :

Iron is important to make haemoglobin, and its deficiency leads to anaemia. Iron requirements during pregnancy are almost doubled. Good sources are meat, liver, eggs, green vegetables and cereals, particularly ragi. Milk is a poor source and so children fed mainly on milk become anaemic.

Calcium is required for the formation of bones and teeth, and so children need relatively more than adults. Milk is an excellent source of calcium.Bones of small fish, millet, green vegetables and drumstick leaves are rich sources.

Protein :

The substance which is required for the growth and maintenance of the body is protein. If sufficient calories are not consumed, proteins are diverted for the supply of energy rather than from body-building. The proteins of a whole egg and milk are considered the best. The proteins of meat and fish compare well with egg protein, and hence such foods are considered to be sources of good-quality proteins. Proteins of vegetable origin are not so well balanced, but by a judicious mixture of cereals and dal, the deficiency can be made up. The addition of milk adds to the quality of proteins.

Legumes such as beans, peas and grams are rich sources of protein and contain as much as 20-25 per cent of it. Soyabean contains 40 per cent protein. Cereals also contain protein, the content varying from 7 per cent in rice to about 12 per cent in wheat. The rest fall in between Oil-seeds such as grundnuts are also a rich source, and because of their oil content they are rich in calories as well.

A child of 1 year needs about 15 gms, of protein, which increases to 20-22 gms between 4-6 years, and to 40 4 gms. between 10-12 years. During pregnancy the requirement of protein is about 55 gms. and during lactation about 65 gms.

Vitamins :

These are essential for the maintenance of good health, but massive amounts are not necessary. Large doses of Vitamin A can be dangerous, as this vitamin is stored in the body. Excess of Vitamins C and B complex is passed out in the urine and stools, and so one is only enriching the sewage rather than the body.

Vitamin A is present in fish-liver oils like cud and shark, milk, eggs, butter and ghee. Green vegetables are rich in Vitamin A, and about 50 gms. of vegetables a day will provide an adequate quantity of this vitamin. Fruits like mango and papaya are also rich sources. Vitamin B is present in milk, eggs, liver and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Guava is particularly rich. Other rich sources are oranges, lemons and tomatoes.

Vitamin D is inadequate in all foods. Small amounts are found in liver, egg yolk and milk. However, Vitamin D is formed in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin. It is very important for children to play about in the sun.

Nutritious Cooking :

The right way of cooking the food should be known to every mother, so that its food value is preserved. Cooking involves many processes, like boiling, steaming, frying, roasting or baking. Boiling and steaming result in a comparatively greater loss of nutrients, particularly when the water is thrown away, as in the case of rice or vegetables. If root vegetables like potatoes are boiled in their skin the loss in nutrients is small. Additions of certain substances while cooking also affects nutrient loss. If baking soda is added to food, it facilitates cooking and preserves the colour but destroys some vitamins. On the other band tamarind preserves vitamins.

The longer food is cooked the greater is the loss of nutrients. If the food is cooked in a small quantity of water which is not discarded, the loss is not much. Cooking with the lid on preserves Vitamin C. A pressure cooker is valuable because it preserves the food value and saves a lot of time and fuel. The finer the vegetables are cut the greater the loss of nutrients. Similarly, soaking vegetables in water removes many nutrients. Removing the outer leaves of cabbage also removes a good source of vitamins. It is best to cut the vegetables just before cooking and wash them before chopping them, rather than afterwards.

Sprouted dals or legumes, cooked light or eaten raw, are in use all over the country. Sprouting improves digestability and nutrition value, as there is an increase in Vitamins B and C, and folic acid. Milling is necessary to convert cereals into flour, quite a lot of nutrients, for example Vitamin B, calcium, iron and proteins, are lost in the process.


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