Nutritional deficiencies can hinder children’s growth and development substantially, affecting physical and cognitive functions. No parent intentionally allows their child to become deficient of certain nutrients, but it can be tough to make sure kids get all of the right things, especially when kids are picky eaters. Understanding common nutrient deficiencies, the effects of those deficiencies, and how to prevent them can be very helpful.
Iron deficiency can cause anemia in children. Children may seem lethargic, pale, and irritable. To identify low iron levels, doctors can perform blood tests and check hemoglobin levels. To prevent iron deficiencies, make sure to use iron-fortified formulas when feeding infants and feed toddlers and children plenty of protein rich foods, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid feeding children cow’s milk too early or allowing children to consume too much milk or soda, as the high sugar and fat content can assist in causing iron deficiency.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D assists calcium absorption in the body, so a vitamin D deficiency may cause a calcium deficiency as well. Vitamin D deficiency may not show any symptoms, or may cause children to develop allergies, respiratory infections, and conditions such as asthma. Infants that are breastfed by mothers who have vitamin D deficiencies and children that do not receive adequate sunlight or vitamin D fortified milk may be prone to vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause delayed speech, mood swings, and irritability in children. Most meats and animal products supply adequate amounts of B12, including organ meats, beef, chicken, eggs, dairy, shellfish, fish, and pork. There are no grain sources of vitamin B12, so families eating a vegan diet should look to include vitamin B12 fortified nutritional yeast, milk substitutes, cereals, or meat substitutes.