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Diet is the Key
2016-09-17 4099 Views

Diet is the Key

At the age of 4-5 years, kids can seemingly play forever, theirsense of wonder boundless, their energy endless. How best to fuel their growthof both mind and body? Below are the nutrients and their importance.

ARA (arachidonicacid)

Need: ARA is a type ofpolyunsaturated fatty acid and the key omega-6 fatty acid in the brain.Essential for brain and vision development,ARA is formed in human cells from linoleic acid (another omega-6 fatty acid).

AdequateIntake : The recommendation from the Institute of Medicine of linoleicacid (precursor of ARA) is 10 g/day.

Sources : Toddler or growing-upmilk, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils?such as sunflower, safflower, andcorn?are sources of omega-6 fatty acids. Meat, poultry, and eggs contain ARA insmall amounts.


Need: It allows for healthytooth and bone development, aids in blood clotting, and supports nerve andmuscle function.

AdequateIntake: Recommended Daily Average is 1,000 mg/day.

Sources: Milk, yogurt, cheese,fortified or enriched grain products, green leafy vegetables (kale, collardgreens, mustard greens), sardines, and salmon.


Need:  Carbohydrates supplyenergy to fuel your child?s activity and growth; they help protein to be usedefficiently in building new tissue. Glucose derived from carbohydrates is thebrain?s main source of energy, and a steady supply helps regulate energy, mood,and focus?all essential for learning.

AdequateIntake: Recommended Daily Average is 130 g/day.

Sources:  Whole grain productssuch as breads and cereals, potatoes, corn, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.


Need: Critical to brain development, cholineis, in fact, essential for the normal functioning of all cells. It plays a rolein memory and learning by supporting braincell signaling.

AdequateIntakeis 250 mg/day.

Sources? Milk, liver, eggs, andpeanuts.

DHA (docosahexaenoicacid)

Need: DHA is one of two keylong-chain omega-3 fatty acids that occur throughout the body (the other isEPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid). They are essential and needed for brain andvision development, and continue to promote healthy brain function and vision throughoutlife. Omega-3 fatty acids also protect heart health.

AdequateIntake:Official recommendations for daily DHA intake haven?t yet been established, butexpert group recommendations range from 200 to 300 mg/day for nursing women. At this age, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommendsan AI of 0.9 g/day of alpha linolenic acid (as a precursor of DHA and EPA) fortoddlers.

Sources:  Breast milk (but the levels can vary based on the mother's diet), formula, and fatty coldwater fish such as salmon, bluefin tuna, black cod, sardines, and herring; small amounts are also present in meat and eggs.


Need: It supports healthytooth development, strengthening tooth enamel and helping prevent and controltooth decay.

AdequateIntake is 1 mg/day.

Sources: Fluoridated water andsupplements (if your main source of drinking water has an insufficientconcentration of fluoride).


Need: It helps thedevelopment and growth of blood cells and the formation of genetic material inevery cell in the brain and throughout the body.

AdequateIntakeis 200 mcg/day (as dietary folate equivalent).

Sources: Liver, green leafyvegetables, legumes, whole grain breads and cereals, fortified or enrichedgrain products, oranges, cantaloupe, and lean beef.


Need: Iodine helps regulatecellular growth and the synthesis of thyroid hormones affecting the brain, aswell as the muscles, heart, kidneys, and pituitary gland. Deficiency, whilevery rare in developed countries, can cause neurodevelopmental problems and isthe top cause of mental retardation worldwide.

AdequateIntake is 90 mcg/day.

Sources: Seafood and iodizedsalt.


Need: Iron is vital to theformation and function of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the brain andfuel its growth. Deficiency early in life can have a significant impact onmental development and even cause cognitive deficits, motor delays, and behavioralabnormalities.

AdequateIntake is 10 mg/day.

Sources: Meat, liver, legumes,whole grain breads and cereals, fortified or enriched grain products, and darkgreen vegetables.


Need: It helps the bodyrelease energy from other nutrients.

AdequateIntakeis 8 mg/day.

Sources: Meat, poultry, fish,whole grain breads and cereals, fortified or enriched grain products, and eggyolks.



Need: Protein helps build,maintain, and repair tissues. It produces hormones, enzymes, and antibodies,helping regulate the body?s processes, and it can provide energy.

AdequateIntakeis 19 g/day.

Sources: Meat, fish, poultry, eggyolks, cheese, yogurt, and legumes.

Riboflavin(vitamin B2)

Need: Riboflavin helps thebody utilize energy from other nutrients.

AdequateIntakeis 0.6 mg/day.

Sources: Meat, dairy products,egg yolks, legumes, green vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, andfortified or enriched grain products.

Thiamin(vitamin B1)

Need: Thiamin helps the bodyrelease energy from carbohydrates and is needed for the nervous system tofunction. It also plays a central role in brain development and metabolism.

AdequateIntakeis 0.6 mg/day.

Sources: Lean pork; wheat germ;whole grain and enriched breads, cereals, and other grain products; legumes;and potatoes.


Need: Vitamin A enhancesgeneral growth, specifically by building healthy skin, hair, mucous membranes,along with the immune and reproductive systems, and it helps both mental andvision development.

AdequateIntakeis 400 mcg/day (as retinol active equivalent).

Sources:  Fish Liver, egg yolks, and dark green and deep yellow fruits andvegetables.


Need: It helps the body tobuild tissues and metabolize fat and is essential for the development of thecentral nervous system. This B vitamin also aids in the synthesis ofneurotransmitters, helping to regulate mood and other aspects of brainfunction.

AdequateIntakeis 0.6 mg/day.

Sources: Liver; meat, whole grainproducts such as breads and cereals, legumes, and potatoes.

Vitamin B12

Need:  Vitamin B12 promotes blood cell health, neurological function,and the formation of genetic material in the blood cells.

Adequate Intake is 1.2 mcg/day.

SourcesMeat, fish, poultry, cheese, egg yolks, and liver.


Need: A component in the formation of collagen?a protein used to buildbone, cartilage, muscle, and connective tissue?vitamin C helps maintain healthycapillaries, heal wounds, absorb iron, and fight infections. It?s also thoughtto play a significant role in brain development.

AdequateIntakeis 25 mg/day.

Sources: Fruits (citrus fruits,papaya, cantaloupe, strawberries) and vegetables (potatoes, cabbage).


Need: Promoting theabsorption of calcium and phosphorus, it allows for healthy bone formation andprevents rickets.

AdequateIntakeis 15 mcg/day (as cholecalciferol, a form of vitamin D, based on an assumptionof minimal sunlight).

Sources: Egg yolks, liver, fattyfish, and sunlight (synthesized in the body upon exposure of skin to sun).


Need: Vitamin E protectsvitamin A and essential fatty acids. It prevents tissue breakdown.

AdequateIntakeis 7 mcg/day (as alpha-tocopherol).

Sources: Green leafy vegetables,vegetable oils, wheat germ, whole grain breads and cereals, fortified orenriched grain products, butter, liver, and egg yolks.


Need: It enables proper bloodclotting.

AdequateIntakeis 55 mcg/day.

Sources: Vegetable oils, greenleafy vegetables, pork, and liver.


Need: Zinc keeps the immunesystem strong, as well as helping in wound healing and regulating blood, bone,and tissue formation. Next to iron, it?s the most abundant metal in the brain,and it?s essential to the development and functioning of the central nervoussystem.

AdequateIntakeis 5 mg/day.

Sources: Meat, liver, egg yolks,oysters and other seafood, whole grain breads and cereals, fortified orenriched grain products, and legumes.