Children need a wide range of vitamins and minerals. However, 2 of the most important ones are Vitamin D and Iron.
Vitamin D is essential for the growth of strong bones in children. It also helps to prevent rickets. Rickets is soft bones in growing children. Children need vitamin D from shortly after birth. Children who are 12 months and younger need about 400 IU of Vitamin D daily. Children who are 12-24 months need about 600 IU of Vitamin D daily.
Sources of Vitamin D for Infants and Children
Fortified Cow’s Milk:
It’s not recommended for children younger than 12 months old. However, it’s a great source of Vitamin D for children older than 12 months old. Fortified cow’s milk may cause intestinal bleeding in children under 12 months as it has too many proteins and minerals. Their kidneys are unable to process it and it’s also missing the right amount of nutrients for an infant.
A baby cannot get all of its Vitamin D from breast milk alone. Therefore, a supplemental source is needed. Over the counter Vitamin D drops can help.
The standard amount of formula that an infant would consume is about 32 oz (896 g). This is sufficient to meet and infant’s Vitamin D needs. If the child is consuming less than that, they may need Vitamin D supplements.
Some good sources of Vitamin D for children who are consuming solid foods include:
- Fish such as salmon or light canned tuna
- Vitamin D fortified foods like cow’s milk (for children 12 months and older), yogurt, cereals, and some juices.
Iron helps to transport oxygen through a child’s body and also supports a child’s learning ability. Consuming enough iron can prevent conditions such as anemia. Premature babies generally need more iron than full-term babies.
Sources of Iron for Infants and Children
From the age of 4 months, babies need more iron than breast milk can provide. Over the counter iron drops can help with this. The drop should be sufficient until the child is old enough to regularly consume more iron-rich foods
A child’s iron needs can be supplemented by standard infant formulas (especially if they have been fortified with iron) for the first 12 months of life.
From about the age of 6 months, babies can start to eat solid foods. These foods should contain one of 2 types of iron- heme and non-heme iron.
Heme iron can be found in:
- Beef, pork, lamb, goat, venison.
- Fatty fish
- Chicken, turkey
Non-Heme iron can be found in:
- Iron-fortified infant cereals
- Beans and lentils
- Dark green leafy vegetables
To increase the absorption of non-heme iron, it should be consumed in conjunction with foods that are high in Vitamin C.