As a mom you’ve already gotten an overwhelming amount of advice on how to take care of your child. Along with the advice is the unwelcome implication that any nutritional gap is your fault. Nutritional deficiencies of iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B 12, folic acid etc. are common in up to a whopping 50% of urban, well-to-do households for adults as well as children. Which means not only could your child be deficient; you could be too! For moms with picky eaters, the question then is, are supplements the easy way out or are they the smart answer?
Picky eaters, busy moms
For the hurried and harried multi-tasking moms, snacks like ready-to-eat foods, fast foods and beverages can seem better than a hungry child. These not only lack micronutrients but often prevent the absorption of nutrients.
Fruits and Veg: The Toddler’s Bane
Vegetables and fruits are the richest sources of essential micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Ironically, just when they need to eat veggies the most children prefer unhealthy carb-loaded junk food over vegetables.
For children of 3-12 years these micronutrients are essential during the growing years. Vitamin A is important not only for good vision but for child’s immunity as well. Vitamin D helps in absorption of calcium in the body and any deficiency will lead to brittle bones and teeth. Similarly, iron deficiency leads to greater susceptibility to diseases, sub-optimal growth and a lack of focus in the child. Deficiencies also impact appetite, further worsening this rather vicious cycle for moms.
The Promised Land of the Balanced Diet
We all know this, but it bears repeating, it is important for kids to eat a wide variety of foods like whole grain cereals, pulses, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, dairy products and meats if you’re non-vegetarian.
According to study by the American Society for Microbiology [DOI: 10.1128/CMR.18.3.446-464.2005] vitamin A supplementation increased the immunity of children against many diseases including tetanus, helped in antibodies production, better gut immunity and vision.
Similarly studies clearly show the need and effectiveness of Vitamin D [ Ritu G1 and Ajay Gupta1,2, PMCID: PMC3942730] supplementation with more than 70% of our population being Vitamin D deficient. The lack of sun exposure for housebound city kids is creating a nutritional gap for Vitamin D which can often only be bridged through supplements. Children who overcome nutritional deficiencies are more active, energetic and focused in academics as well as play.
Used intelligently, supplements may reduce the burden of worry on your shoulders without constant monitoring. While stress on a healthy diet needs to be maintained, supplements could be your hack to protecting your child’s crucial growing years.
The verdict? Eventually it’s your call and parenting path. You need to choose keeping the health and wellness of your unique child at the heart of it. The best answer lies in arming yourself with knowledge and choosing what feels good.