Nourishing your child: Signs of nutritional deficiency

Nourishing your child Signs of nutritional deficiency

Before we even begin, we would like to note that when we speak about malnutrition we are not, by any means, talking about starving your child. What we are discussing is the fact that some children may eat a diet that contains an adequate amount of calories but lack the nutrients they need. With that said, this post is meant to educate parents on the vitamins and minerals that your children truly need.

As mothers and parents we do just about every single thing we can possibly think of to make sure our children are in a good, healthy environment. Sometimes things happen that we cannot control. Sometimes our children catch the flu, or fall and hurt themselves. Sometimes even with our best efforts put forth, our little children can suffer from nutritional deficiencies . Some of you may have already experienced this, but for those of you who have not, we want to educate you on some of the signs of nutritional deficiencies.


Some of the signs we are going to talk about may be considered “pre-determined” or “genetic,” but keep in mind that, even though we are born with certain habits or patterns, the nutrition we experience throughout or lives  can perhaps determine whether or not they will manifest themselves.  Lets go over some of the signs of Nutritional Deficiencies in children. 

Dry Skin and/or Hair

If you find that your child’s hair is constantly dry and coarse no matter what you do, this may be a sign that there is a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K2. If you suspect this is the case, you can try to give him really high quality fat soluble vitamins, or supplements such as fermented cod liver oil. You may notice softer skin, and healthier and shinier hair in your child. You can buy it here.

Frequent colds and flus

Have you ever noticed that when you aren’t eating so well and you’re eating all the wrong foods you get sick a little more often? It’s not until you switch to a healthy diet that you see how good you feel. Your children need to have a healthy balanced diet including options from all of the food groups. Children who eat well are going to have higher immunity and may be less susceptible to other children’s germs. If your children are getting sick often this could be from a nutritional deficiency. A good diet and a healthy lifestyle are always going to be the best prevention for colds and flu.

Depression and/or anxiety

Depression and anxiety are things that always starts in the brain, but can also be brought on by a nutritional deficiency. Let’s look at an example. Protein contains amino acids, and when protein comes from animal foods they are likely to contain all amino acids and are usually easily absorbed by the body. Protein from plants contain an incomplete number of amino acids. Amino acids are extremely important to the diet because the brain uses these acids to create something called neurotransmitters. A proper balance of serotonin, endorphins, catecholemines and GAGB helps to keep humans feeling calm and happy instead of depressed and anxious. A diet that has a high amount of complete protein may be the answer to helping a nutritional imbalance. If one is vegan or vegetarian they may get their complete protiens from foods such as hempseed, quinoa, buckwheat, hemp, chia, rice and beans. When these are paired together, they make a complete protein. 

Delayed speech

If you didn’t already know, a deficiency in B12 may be the culprit behind delayed speech. If you suspect your child may be deficient in B12 you should always have them tested first before using any supplement. In the meantime, you could offer him foods that are naturally rich with B12 such as beef, chicken, fish, pork, dairy, eggs.

There are not any grain or plant foods that have vitamin B12 naturally in them, however, it is often found in fortified cereals and is also found in sea vegetables such as nori and dulse. Dulse contains 66 percent of the recommended daily amount of B12. Buy it here.

Cavities

We often associate cavities with having too many sweets and not brushing our teeth. While this doesn’t help, it’s not entirely true. Although one may be taking in a lot of sugar it could also mean they are not taking in other foods that are actually good for them. This alone can cause tooth decay, and amply amounts of vitamin are key to good teeth and good diet. Dr. Weston Price, a dentist know for his theories on the relationship between teeth and nutrition, found that cavities resulted from a deficiency in proper minerals, and also a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins that are needed to absorb and assimilate the minerals. So, if your child is constantly having cavity issues, this could be a sign that you child is nutritionally deficient.

Obesity

We are sure you weren’t expecting obesity to be on this list, but malnutrition is exactly why the person is obese. When you eat highly processed foods, and foods that have little nutrients in them, your body is becomes literally starved for good nutrients which is why you will never feel full after. So you eat more and more foods that aren’t good for you in order to feel full. Our bodies were made to feel satisfied when we eat a variety of foods including meat, vegetables, dairy, and seafood. We become malnourished when we stray from this diet into a more processed, low-nutrient diet.


According to the University of British Columbia, “Nutritional deficiencies can be very significant to the overall health of infants and children because growth and development can be seriously hindered by shortages in essential vitamins or nutrients. The two most common are iron and vitamin D deficiency.”

Fortifying food: Many foods we buy at the supermarket are fortified, which means that extra vitamins and nutrients were added. Is some cases the product is fortified because the process used to make the food has stripped it of its original nutrients. Fortifying food started as a way to prevent disease. It does have a place in the diet, especially of little picky eaters but we have to remember that it should be used to fill in the gaps in the diet and not as an insurance policy. It is always best to eat as much wholesome food as possible and it’s always going to provide the best nutrition.

If anything, we hope this post gives you some insight into nutrition and helps you with what to watch for if you think your child isn’t getting the vitamins and minerals they need. It’s great for parents to be aware of these kinds of things and to stay on top of them.

If you want to learn more about healthy eating habits, check out these posts:
5 Tips for encouraging healthy eating habits early and Five books to foster healthy eating habits in children.

This post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician, doctor or health care professional. Please read our terms of use for more information.


Photo Credit: 1 Jerome Chi 2  Boudewijn Berends 3 Our Three Peas 4 makelessnoise 5 Lauren Hardy

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Lauren Hardy

Lauren is a new mom living in Toronto, Canada. When she is not at home being a mom, she is working full time as a model, playing competitive baseball, and working on her personal blog. In her “spare” time, Lauren is aspiring to become a childbirth educator. You can find her at Lauren Hardy Blog

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