Top 10 essential nutrients for children 2-4 years old

Brighton Montessori

Nutritional needs for 2-year-olds are very high because they have started weaning. According to statistics, children aged 2-3 years are prone to malnutrition due to unbalanced diets. Therefore, building a proper and scientific diet for children from 2 to 4 years old is very necessary.

Top 10 chất dinh dưỡng cần thiết cho trẻ 2-4 tuổi
Top 10 essential nutrients for children 2-4 years old

1. Calcium

Calcium builds strong bones and teeth, promotes healthy nerve and muscle function, aids blood clotting, and helps the body convert food into energy. Calcium requirements for children:

  • 1 to 3 years old: 700 milligrams (mg) per day;
  • 4 to 8 years old: 1,000 mg per day.

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are the best sources of calcium for 2-year-olds. In addition, some other calcium-rich foods you should try are:

  • Tofu
  • Chocolate milk
  • Whole grain bread
  • Homemade Pudding
  • Spinach / Spinach / Boiled Spinach
  • Calcium-fortified soy milk.

2. Essential fatty acids (EFAs)

Essential fatty acids will build cells, regulate the nervous system, strengthen the cardiovascular system, strengthen immunity, and help the body absorb nutrients. It is also necessary for healthy brain function and vision.

Children 1 to 3 years old need:

  • 7000 mg or 7 grams of omega-6;
  • 700 mg or 0.7 grams of omega-3.

Every day children between the ages of 4 and 8 need the following:

  • 9000 mg or 10 grams of omega-6;
  • 900 mg or 0.9 grams of omega-3.

Good sources of omega-3s in a 3-year-old’s diet include:

  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed oil, wheat germ oil, soybean oil, rapeseed oil
  • Egg
  • Tofu
  • Salmon
  • Soybeans (dry, cooked)
  • Boiled kale.

Most 4-year-olds get more than the omega-6 they need, mainly from vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, and soy).

3. Iron

It plays a vital role in making hemoglobin – the red pigment that transports oxygen in the blood, and myoglobin – the pigment that stores oxygen in the muscles. Lack of iron in a 3-year-old’s diet can cause anemia, leading to fatigue, weakness, and irritability.

  • From 1 to 3 years old, children need 7 mg of iron per day;
  • Children 4 to 8 years old need 10 mg of iron per day.

Iron can be found in many foods, such as:

  • Iron-fortified instant cereals and oatmeal
  • Raw tofu, soybeans
  • Boiled lentils
  • Baked beans with pork and tomato sauce
  • Green bean
  • Lean beef, braised pork belly
  • Hamburger with 95% lean meat
  • Boiled Spinach
  • Black beans
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Raisins.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium keeps bones strong and the heart rhythm steady, supports the immune system, and helps maintain muscle and nerve function. Magnesium requirements for children:

  • From 1 to 3 years: 80 mg per day;
  • 4 to 8 years old: 130 mg per day.

Some magnesium-rich foods you should add to your 2-year-old’s nutrition are: nuts and beans are the best sources of magnesium. Green leafy vegetables are also good because they contain extra minerals. Magnesium is also found in whole-wheat bread.

Whole grains:

  • Roasted cashews
  • Roasted peanuts with oil
  • Soymilk
  • Almond butter, peanut butter
  • Boiled Spinach
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Black beans
  • Skimmed yogurt
  • Long-grain brown rice
  • Banana
  • Low-fat milk
  • Raisins
  • Avocado.

5. Potassium

Potassium combined with sodium will control the body’s water balance, helping maintain blood pressure. It also supports muscle function and heart rate, reducing the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis in adulthood.

  • Children 1 to 3 years old need 3000 mg of potassium per day;
  • 4 to 8 years old need 3800 mg per day.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium. Milk, meat, and cereals also contain potassium but are not easily absorbed. Some foods high in potassium include:

  • Baked potato
  • Raisins
  • Tomato juice
  • Orange juice
  • Sunflower seed
  • Red pumpkin
  • Banana
  • Boiled Spinach
  • Almond
  • Tomato
  • Honey
  • Watermelon.

6. Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a vital role in vision and bone development; it helps protect the body from infections; promotes the health and growth of cells and tissues, including hair, nails, and skin.

  • Children 1 to 3 years: 1,000 IU or 300 micrograms (mcg) per day;
  • Children 4 years and older: 1,333 IU or 400 mcg daily.

Colorful fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin A, such as:

  • Carrot
  • Cooked sweet potato
  • Boiled and raw spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Boiled Kale
  • Apricot juice
  • Green and red bell peppers
  • Mango
  • Boiled broccoli
  • Boiled peas
  • Tomato juice
  • Canned peaches, fresh peaches
  • Egg
  • Cheddar cheese.

7. Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps form and repair red blood cells, bones, and tissues; helps keep children’s gums healthy and strengthens blood vessels, minimizing bruising; Supports healing, strengthens the immune system, and prevents infections. It also helps the body absorb iron from iron-rich foods.

  • Children 1 to 3 years old: 15 mg per day;
  • 4 to 8 years old: 25 mg per day.

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C, including:

  • Guava
  • Orange
  • Red bell pepper
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberry
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Spinach
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Banana.

8. Vitamin D

It essential to achieve peak growth potential and bone mass. Helps the body absorb minerals like calcium to build strong teeth and bones. It also functions as a hormone in immune system health, insulin production, and regulation of cell growth.

  • Newborn to 12 months: 400 IU or ten mcg daily;
  • Children over one year: 600 IU or 15 mcg daily.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body can produce it when the skin is exposed to sunlight. But a child’s body can’t make vitamin D when wearing clothes or sunscreen to block the sun’s rays. It is necessary to spend 5 – 30 minutes playing outside between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week, to produce the recommended amount of vitamin D.

However, experts warn that ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. So consider giving your 4-year-old something that has natural or fortified vitamin D, such as:

  • Salmon
  • Fortified yogurt
  • Canned tuna, fresh and in oil
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified milk (whole, low-fat, or skim)
  • Fortified instant cereals
  • Mackerel
  • Yolk
  • Fortified margarine
  • Fortified cheese.

9. Vitamin E

Limit the production of free radicals, which can damage cells. Essential for immunity, DNA repair, and other metabolic processes.

  • 1 to 3 years: 6 mg or 9 IU of vitamin E daily
  • 4 to 8 years old: 7 mg or 10.5 IU daily

Vitamin E can be found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Some of the best sources of vitamin E include:

  • Roasted almonds
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Roasted sunflower seeds
  • Peanut butter, roasted peanuts
  • Kiwi
  • Boiled Spinach
  • Boiled broccoli
  • Soybean Oil
  • Mango.

10. Zinc

Essential for over 70 enzymes that aid digestion, metabolism, and general growth.

  • From 1 to 3 years: 3 mg per day;
  • 4 to 8 years old: 5 mg per day.

Zinc can be found in many foods, such as:

  • Baked beans with pork and tomato sauce
  • Cooked beef, steak
  • Grilled Hamburger with 95% lean meat
  • Instant breakfast cereal fortified with 25% zinc
  • Roasted almonds
  • Low-fat fruit yogurt
  • Cashew butter, no salt added
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Roasted chicken thighs
  • Tofu
  • Boiled peas
  • Skinless chicken breast
  • Mozzarella cheese/cheddar
  • Milk.

The number of nutrients in food will vary depending on the brand or type of meat. generally, diets for 3-year-olds do not need the recommended amount of nutrients each day. Instead, aim to average over a few days or a week. Note young children should eat foods that are thinly sliced, mashed, or cut into small pieces to avoid choking. What a 4-year-old child eats depends on his age and individual appetite. Your task is to estimate the nutritional content accordingly.

For children to be healthy and develop well, it is necessary to have a balanced diet in quantity and quality. Suppose children are not provided with adequate and balanced nutrients. In that case, it will lead to diseases of excess or lack of nutrients that adversely affect the comprehensive development of children in terms of physical, mental, and motor skills.

Children who do not eat properly risk micro-mineral deficiency, causing anorexia, growth retardation, malabsorption, etc. Parents should supplement their children with supportive products if they notice the above signs. The supplement contains lysine, essential micro-minerals, and vitamins such as zinc, chromium, selenium, and B vitamins to help fully meet the nutritional needs of children. At the same time, these essential vitamins also support digestion, enhance nutrient absorption, help improve anorexia, and help children eat well.

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