WORRYING about whether your child is getting enough food can be a natural concern for parents.
But it is totally normal for kids to be fussy and refuse to eat or try new foods.
Health experts say that as long as they are active, gaining weight and seem well, they they’re probably getting enough to eat.
If they’re not eating foods from any of the four main food groups – fruit and veg, starchy carbs, dairy and pulses – then that’s when you need to be a bit more concerned.
The body needs lots of different vitamins and minerals, known as micronutrients, from our diet for development and to prevent disease.
Avoiding these causes nutritional deficiencies, which can lead to a variety of pretty unpleasant side-effects.
Here are just some of the health issues caused by poor nutrition and how to avoid them…
Vitamin A is important for many bodily functions, including a strong immune system, reproduction and good skin health – but it’s also vital for vision.
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and can increase the risk of disease and even death, according to the World Health Organisation.
It comes after it was revealed two British teenagers had gone blind after years of only eating chips and crisps.
Some of the first signs can be dry eyes and night blindness, Healthline reports.
For newborn babies, the best source of vitamin A is breast milk, but for everyone else, it’s important to get it from food. These include:
- green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and spinach
- orange vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes
- reddish-yellow fruits, such as apricots, peaches, and tomatoes
Another common nutritional deficiency is thiamine, also known as vitamin B-1.
It’s an important part of the nervous system and helps turn carbohydrates into energy as part of your metabolism.
Thiamine is found in foods such as eggs, nuts, seeds, wheat germ and pork.
But a lack of it can cause problems like weight loss, fatigue, confusion and short-term memory loss.
A thiamine deficiency is also a common cause of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome – a form of dementia.
Low levels of niacin, also known as vitamin B-3, can cause dementia.
The most common nutritional deficiency is iron, which can lead to anaemia.
It’s a blood disorder that causes fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath.
Iron is found in foods like dark leafy greens, red meat and egg yolks.
Vitamin B-9, also known as folate, helps the body create red blood cells and produce DNA.
It’s especially important for fetal development and crucial in the formation of a developing child’s brain and spinal cord.
Folate deficiency can lead to severe birth defects, growth problems and anaemia.
The best sources of folate come from:
- beans and lentils
- citrus fruits
- leafy green vegetables
- meats, such as poultry and pork
- fortified grain products
- whole grains
Around one billion people in the world don’t get enough vitamin D – yet it’s vital for healthy bones.
It helps the body maintain the right levels of calcium in order to regulate the development of teeth and bones.
But a diet that lacks the nutrient can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults, according to the NHS.
Vitamin D is only found naturally in a few foods, including:
- oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- red meat
- egg yolks
- fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals
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The best source of vitamin D is sunlight.
From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
But between October and early March we don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.
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