With the upsurge in covid cases, there is understandably an element of anxiety. The biggest question on a parent’s mind is how strong their child’s immunity currently is. Here is the importance of nutrition in building the immune system in addition to helping the proper growth and overall development of a child. The lack of sufficient, varied and nutritious food can affect a child’s cognitive development, interfere with their learning and weaken their immune system.
Several key nutrients play a role in regulating, building and strengthening the body’s immune system and supporting healthy growth in children. These nutrients are found in foods like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, legumes, nuts and grains. Parents should consider adding it to daily breakfast or lunch:
Vitamin C: An essential vitamin produced by the body, it is found in abundance in many food groups. Fruits like oranges and lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C; the same goes for vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and peppers
Vitamin E : A key antioxidant that helps maintain a healthy nervous system and is an important nutrient that supports cell development. Moderately needed in children, vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, leafy and green vegetables
Selenium: An important mineral that is essential for proper functioning of the body and healthy cells. It is an excellent antioxidant and is usually found in abundance in vegetables. Foods like beans, mushrooms and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of this mineral. It is also found in poultry and some seafood
Arginine: This is an important amino acid that plays a key role in growth by promoting the growth of bone growth plate cells to help them grow faster when growth is stunted. Sources of arginine are dairy products, non-vegetarian foods, nuts, etc.
Vitamin K2: An important micronutrient that helps transport calcium into the bones and ultimately helps build stronger bones. It is found in fermented foods, dairy products, eggs and meat
Zinc: An important nutrient for growth and the immune system, it is found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds and nuts.
Iron: A mineral that our body needs for many functions as it helps muscles store and use oxygen. It is found in dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, legumes, pumpkin seeds, eggs, meat
Iodine: Iodine is a mineral needed by the body to make thyroid hormones which control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. It is found in seafood and iodized salts
Parents should focus on protecting children by providing healthy nutrition to boost immunity and optimize physical, cognitive and social development. Feeding a child a nutritious, balanced diet that is beneficial for their holistic development and growth is easier said than done.