Why vitamins and minerals are essential for your child’s growth?
Obesity is a growing problem in today’s world. Our shelves are stocked with food items full of fat and sugar content, which causes millions of people around the world to become overweight, which results in various heart-related diseases. Despite this increasing problem of obesity in our community, many kids are dangerously underweight, and they face problems in gaining weight.
Low weight in children identifies that their body is not receiving enough energy from the diet they are taking. If parents don’t do something about it soon, then the condition of their children can carry huge consequences, which includes delays in mental and physical growth. This is why it is essential to diagnose and treat an underweight child immediately.
Experts recommend using vitamins and mineral supplements in order to boost your child’s growth. There are several excellent supplements on the market that provide a great blend of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. There are specific vitamins that will work on a specific aspect of your kid’s life, but they all will eventually help your kid in gaining weight. Apart from this, there are a few vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your kid can take that will create a strong appetite.
If your child is getting sufficient vitamins, this will not only have a positive impact on their weight but will also influence their mood, energy, bone health, and much more. Similarly, if your kid is deficient in these essential vitamins and minerals, they will face some negative consequences.
Apart from making your efforts, you also need to consult a health professional in order to identify the underlying causes of your child’s low weight along with the best way to diagnose and treat this condition. Health professionals are more likely to prescribe a high-calorie diet for your child. It won’t be a surprise if they recommend a few multivitamin supplements for your kid as well. This article includes the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients which are most likely to be prescribed by a pediatrician for children to gain some weight.
Most important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients
There are countless types of vitamins that have a specific effect on our bodies. The following are some of the best vitamins for kids to gain weight.
B vitamins are one of the most important vitamins your body needs in order to function properly. These vitamins will assist your body in converting food into energy, create and maintain new blood cells, skin cells, and brain cells.
There are eight different types of B vitamins. This includes vitamin B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-9, and B-12. Together, these are commonly known as the vitamin B complex. The most important B vitamins for a growing kid are Vitamin B-1 and B-12.
Thiamin or vitamin B-1 helps in assisting the body to break down sugar and protein molecules from food. If your kid lacks the right level of Thiamin, he or she will face some difficulty in absorbing sufficient nutrients. Vitamin B-1 is greatly present in whole grains, cereal, rice, pasta, pork, seeds, and nuts.
Vitamin B-12, on the other hand, helps to convert carbohydrates into sufficient energy needed for the body to function. Being deficient in vitamin B-12 may cause anemia, resulting in a poor mood, decreased appetite, and lack of energy. B-12 can be naturally found in animal products like beef liver, milk, yogurt, and salmon.
B Vitamins are water-soluble. This means that your body does not store them; they are eliminated through your urine. That is why it is very unlikely to take too much B vitamins from your diet. However, there are still chances of an overdose, which may cause excessive thirst, blurry vision, nausea, diarrhea, and increased urination.
Vitamin A will protect your child from infection and will promote growth. It is vital for your child’s tissues, bones, and cells. It will ensure a strong and well-functioning body so that your child can counter his or her weak appetite. Kids need a sufficient amount of vitamin A for their growth and development. It is also essential for the immune system. Vitamin A naturally occurs in meat, milk, eggs, carrots, spinach, broccoli, and other leafy green vegetables.
If you are taking Vitamin A in recommended amounts, then it is entirely safe; however, if you exceed your dosage, it may cause some side effects such as sleepiness, loss of consciousness, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and other problems.
Vitamin D is another essential vitamin your body needs in order to absorb and hold calcium and phosphorus in your body. You should know that both calcium and phosphorus are critical for strong bones. A vitamin D deficiency can also lead to rickets, which is a severe bone-softening disease.
Vitamin D is naturally found in food products such as trout, salmon, eggs, cow’s milk, yogurt, orange juice, and cereal. Also, remember that sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, so make sure your kid gets a decent exposure to the early morning sunlight.
Vitamin D does not have side effects unless taken too much. Some side effects of excessive vitamin D include loss of appetite, weakness, sleepiness, fatigue, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Vitamin C is another water-soluble vitamin commonly found in fruits, green vegetables, and tomatoes. It is vital for bone structure, skin integrity, and iron absorption. A deficiency in vitamin C can cause scurvy, which is a fatal disease.
Your kid’s body needs vitamin C in order to help the body develop materials needed to grow, repair, and maintain tissues. It also has countless health benefits, such as improved immune system, better eye health, and disease prevention.
Our bodies are not capable of storing extra vitamin C because it is a water-soluble vitamin. This is why our body will release extra vitamin C through urine every day. This also means that as parents, we need to make vitamin C a regular part of our kid’s diet to make sure that their precious bodies remain healthy.
A deficiency in vitamin C may result in bleeding gums, skin bruising, loose teeth, poor healing of cuts and wounds, and infections. On the other hand, mega doses of vitamin C can result in diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, heartburn, headache, and insomnia.
Just like vitamins, our bodies also need proper minerals in order to function well. The following are some of the best minerals for kids to gain weight.
Iron is a primary element of a protein that helps to transport oxygen to the tissues from the lungs. For young kids, iron is extremely important for their growth and development. Iron can be found in seafood, meat, poultry, nuts, beans, whole grains along with plants and fortified foods. In order to absorb iron properly, our body also requires vitamin C. So, make sure both iron and vitamin C are a good part of your child’s diet.
An iron deficiency can lead to some serious health problems such as anemia. High doses of iron are considered to be extremely risky for young children, that is why you should only take the dosage that is recommended by your pediatrician.
Zinc is another essential mineral your child’s body needs in order to maintain a fully functioning immune system. Zinc is also found to be an appetite stimulant, which means that it will encourage your underweight child to eat more food. This will ultimately lead to speedy growth.
The child’s body cannot produce or store Zinc, which is why you must provide a constant supply of Zinc in his or her diet. Zinc can be naturally found in a variety of animal and plant foods such as shellfish, meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy products, mushrooms, peas, and more.
Children with zinc deficiency are more prone to infections. Apart from this, they are more likely to lose weight. On the contrary, if Zinc is consumed more than the recommended dosage, then it might cause some side effects such as fever, stomach pain, coughing, and fatigue.
It is quite clear that calcium is, in fact, the most important nutrient your child needs in order to develop and strengthen their bones. Your child needs a regular supply of calcium and sufficient amounts of it so that his or her bones can grow at a healthy pace. Kids have growing bodies; their bones undergo regular remodeling, and calcium will help them build new bones during their growth and development.
Most of the calcium can be found in your teeth and bones. That is why in order to keep your kid’s bones and teeth strong, calcium is a must. Since your body cannot make more calcium on its own, so it is important to feed calcium to your body throughout your life. Milk is considered to be the best source of calcium, and you should make it a permanent part of your child’s diet.
If your body intakes too much calcium, then you will feel some side effects such as nausea, constipation, vomiting, increased thirst, muscle weakness, lack of energy, and more.
Magnesium deficiency is very common in children, and it can cause constipation and poor sleep. Some also say that learning disabilities are somehow linked with low magnesium. It is true because if the right level of magnesium is not going into your child’s system, then their mental, as well as physical growth, is compromised. This is why parents should not ignore the importance of magnesium in their child’s diet.
Magnesium can be found in food sources such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, black-eyed peas, and spinach. It is also a relatively safe supplement because, unlike other nutrients, it gets eliminated from the body on a daily basis. Whenever the body absorbs too much magnesium, it throws it out through the bowels. This is exactly why people experience diarrhea after consuming too much magnesium at once. Other side effects include stomach upset, vomiting, nausea, irregular heartbeat, confusion, and low blood pressure.
According to the professionals, your kid’s gut health is also very important in order to maintain a healthy weight. Not having proper bowel movements indicate that your child’s stomach is causing discomfort because of which he or she is not eating properly. Probiotics are great nutrients that will ensure that your kid’s gut stays healthy. They are also common to cure other types of food allergies. Because of these benefits, probiotics will make sure that your child’s weight remains healthy.
Giving probiotics to your child can offer a wide range of benefits; however, it also causes some side effects, especially if you are trying it for the first time. Some side effects include gas, upset stomach, diarrhea, and bloating. Those side effects usually go away once your child’s body gets used to them.
Fish oil or Omega-3s fatty acids are essential not only for adults but also for children because these will play a key part in their growth and development. It offers a wide range of health benefits, which include immunity, fetal development, heart health, and brain function. Your body cannot generate them; that is why you need to obtain them via food source.
Fish oil is a vital component of a healthy diet. You can find them in fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Omega-3s found in fish oil can also be found in plant foods like seeds, nuts, and some vegetables.
The side effects of fish oil are very mild. These include bad breath, headache, unpleasant aftertaste, heartburn, nausea, stomach upset, and diarrhea.
Make sure you stick to the prescribed dosage so that the risk of these side effects is reduced.
Why are some kids underweight?
Growing kids, mainly between 6 to 12 years of age, need the calories and nutrients in order to keep growing. If you suspect that your kid is underweight, he or she might not be taking enough of these calories and nutrients.
The following are a few reasons why a kid is not gaining weight properly.
Genetics may be one of the reasons why your kid is not putting on weight like other kids of the same age. If you and your partner both are thin, there is a very high possibility that your kid is going to be thin as well. Children inherit specific characteristics from their parents, and this time it happens to be their slim physique.
- Digestive Diseases
Digestive diseases such as gastro-oesophageal reflux or inflammatory bowel disease can be the reasons why your kid is underweight. If your child has this disease, he or she may experience heartburn or bowel pain, which may result in a loss of appetite, and they may refuse to eat. If you observe symptoms such as frequent diarrhea or vomiting, then you need to consult a doctor right away.
- Thyroid-related Diseases
Another possibility of children being underweight is that they may have an overactive thyroid. Because of hyperthyroidism, kids can lose some serious weight. Look for symptoms such as irritability and nervousness and contact a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will immediately conduct a complete blood test in order to confirm that hyperthyroidism is the reason why the kid is underweight.
- Eating Disorders
Nowadays, eating disorders in little kids is becoming more and more common. When a kid has an eating disorder, he or she may throw up after every meal. Not only that, but they will also reduce food consumption drastically. Such a child should immediately be referred to a doctor for further diagnostics.
How to check if my kid is underweight?
For parents, it can be very challenging to tell whether their child is underweight or not. Parents just suspect that their child is underweight, but little do they know that there is a difference between being slim and being underweight.
The first thing such parents should do is to measure the height and weight of their child. Once they have the figures, they can simply compare it to the healthy weight of their child’s age and height category, or they can feed the figures on a healthy weight calculator, which can be conveniently found online.
Apart from this, parents must also observe their kids and look for the following signs and symptoms which will confirm the possibility of your child being underweight:
- Joint pain
- Mood swings
- Learning issues
- Weight loss
- Low body fat
- Delicate bone structure
What is a balanced diet?
The government suggests parents of children aged 5 to give their kids a diet that follows the Eatwell Guide. This particular guide identifies the proportions of different foods which must be present in order to call it a balanced diet.
- Children must at least eat five portions of different fruits and vegetables every day.
- Drink lots of fluids; six to eight glasses a day are recommended.
- A balanced diet contains a variety of food items extracted from the five primary food groups.
- The meals should be based on starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta. Also, try to include wholegrain where possible.
- Only use unsaturated oils and that too in small amounts.
- Try to include some dairy in the diet and make sure to choose lower-sugar and lower-fat options.
- Make sure that beans, pulses, meat, eggs, fish, and other proteins are part of your kid’s diet.
Try to avoid consuming foods and drinks that have high sugar, salt, and fat content.
Health tips for your kids to gain weight
- Offer different fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, and whole grains throughout the week.
If you want your child to put on some extra pounds, it is important for you to feed him a balanced meal throughout the week. A balanced meal would include a portion of all food types such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, whole grains, etc. Try to vary the foods so that your toddler can experiment with different tastes, textures, and colors of food.
If you follow a vegetarian diet for your family, then you need to contact your physician, who is likely to prescribe vitamins D and B-12 along with riboflavin and calcium.
- Try to avoid gummy vitamins for kids.
Many dentists are against gummy vitamins because they blame them for childhood dental cavities. Not only that, but they are also choking hazards for small kids. Apart from this, your child may also confuse gummy vitamins with sweets. This is not a healthy habit; they should know they are taking some sort of medication in the form of supplements.
- Limit cow’s milk to around 16-24 ounces per day
Cow’s milk can make your kid’s belly full without providing them with the benefits of other whole foods. Apart from this, kids who drink cow’s milk a little more than 24 ounces a day can develop anemia, which is a kind of iron deficiency. If your kid seems thirsty, offer him some water instead of milk. Also, try to increase fruit and vegetable intake, because both are excellent sources of water.
- Avoid skipping meals
Another step parents must take is to make sure that their kid does not skip any meals. A great strategy would be to offer four to five smaller meals rather than three bigger meals. Most importantly, try to encourage your kid to eat whenever he is hungry. Similarly, if your kid does not feel hungry at a particular time of day, then encourage him to at least eat something rather than totally skipping that meal.
- Encourage eating healthy snacks.
Make your kid eat some kind of healthy snack rather than unhealthy snacks, which other kids love eating. Chips, soft drinks, candies, etc., are low-nutrient, empty calory, junk food, and they do no good to your child’s body. Make sure that your kid snacks on high-nutrient, energy-rich foods, which not only have high calories, but also have all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. A peanut butter sandwich would be way better than a pack of chips.
- Little things matter
Try to add more calories to your kid’s meals. If you are making oatmeal or pudding and the recipe says water, you can easily substitute it with powdered milk. Similarly, try to add some cheese toppings with your kid’s favorite food. It will be an extra 60 calories for your kid. You can also throw in some slices of banana on your child’s meals. Bananas are rich in potassium, carbohydrates, Vitamins C, and B6. Not only that, but a single banana has around 100 calories.
- Introduce your kid to the foods that improve appetite
Mother nature has planned everything for us. There are some food items that increase and improve appetite. You can try to gradually include these ingredients when preparing your kid’s meals. These ingredients include basil, cinnamon, ginger, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and lemon Juice.
Important Q&A for parents
1- Is it helpful to just eat more?
Many parents with underweight kids allow them to consume as many chips and unhealthy snacks as possible. This is an extremely wrong practice. If you follow the same practice, you will most likely disturb the right proportion of nutrients that should be consumed throughout the day. This would ultimately lead to nutrient deficiencies that may cause irreversible damage. Try to take some time to observe, study, and treat your child’s condition rather than forcing them to eat more.
The best thing to do is to include all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in your child’s diet that will help him gain weight and alleviate any type of deficiencies that might affect metabolism. Not only that, but it will also help your child better utilize the food. A healthy diet will also supply essential nutrients needed to stimulate the appetite so that the child feels hungrier and eats more.
2- What are some of the top food items I should give my children to gain weight?
In general, you want your child to not just eat high-calorie meals but also a meal full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. This is why junk foods will not help your kid put on some weight. The following are some of the food items that are proven to work on underweight children.
- Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a great option for you to assist your child in gaining weight. It also proteins along with 30 essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can only be found in peanut butter.
- Orange Juice
Kids who are picky eaters may not eat the right fruits needed to ensure a positive supply of vitamins. This is why orange juice is the best alternative. Kids just love the taste of it, and it also hosts a number of essential nutrients such as vitamin c, fiber, potassium, etc.
- Dairy Products
whole milk, soy milk, etc., are great sources of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamins A, and much more. This is why milk must be a regular part of your child’s diet. Not just milk, your kid also needs a variety of dairy products such as yogurt, cream cheese, whipping cream, sour cream, and different cheeses. These products are packed with protein, calcium, vitamins A and D, and more.
Bananas are full of potassium, carbohydrates, Vitamins C and B6, and dietary fiber. Even a single banana holds more than 100 calories. Make sure you include banana shakes, smoothies, and puddings in your child’s diet.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato is quite nutritious. It is rich in vitamin A, C and B-6, manganese, potassium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, and copper. Sweet potatoes are also very low in saturated fat. They are extremely easy to mash and digest. You can say that it is an ideal food for kids with digestive problems.
- Meat and Egg
Meat can be an ideal option for gaining weight. It is full of essential amino acids, protein, fat, iron, and Zinc. Similarly, eggs are also rich in protein. They contain minerals and vitamins essential for your kid’s growth and development.
3- What Are Some of the Best Vitamin Supplement For Appetite?
A number of best vitamins, along with minerals and nutrients, are mentioned on this list; however, the following the best of the best, and we highly recommend using these vitamin supplements to increase your kid’s appetite.
- Fish Oil:Whether you make your kids eat fish such as salmon or you make them consume a daily supplement, fish oil is essential for your underweight kid in order to increase appetite.
- Zinc:Make sure your child gets enough of Zinc by making him or her consume healthy foods such as meat, nuts, seeds, dairy, and other similar items.
- Vitamin B-1 or Thiamine:Thiamine utilizes calories and converts them into energy. It is an essential vitamin that needs to be present in your kid. You can either provide him naturally via food items or you can opt some sort of vitamin B-1 supplement.
Before giving these supplements to your children, it is very important to consult a medical expert.
4- Why is my kid so skinny?
Many children out there are naturally slim. Genetics plays a great role in their physique. As long as they are eating healthy and they have a great appetite and desire to eat like other regular kids, then there should be no concern. If that is not the case, then you might be dealing with an underweight child. Generally speaking, a kid with a BMI that is underneath the 5th percentile is considered underweight. These kids require the best vitamins for kids to gain weight.
5- How much should a five-year-old weigh?
For a five-year-old boy, the average weight to height proportion is around 40.5 pounds to 3 feet 7 inches. On the other hand, for a girl of the same age, the ratio is 39.5 pounds to 3 feet 6.5 inches.
For parents, there is nothing more important than their child’s health and well-being. This is why seeing your child underweight is a cause of concern and overwhelms the majority of parents out there.
If you suspect that your child is underweight and is not eating right. In that case, you need to consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible so that his or her condition is diagnosed and treated immediately. You can surely make a difference in your kid’s growth and development by giving him or her the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients mentioned on this list.
Also, keep in mind that the information and the tips for helping kids gain weight in this article are not meant for toddlers who have just started eating. Kids at such age are developmentally normal.