How to spot nutritional deficiencies in your child

As any parent will tell you, kids rarely want and eat the foods that are good for them – one just needs to offer them broccoli to see that. As a result, they could become deprived of essential nutrients and vitamins. Here’s what you need to look out for.

As a parent, you understandably want your little ones to grow up strong and healthy. But it’s impossible to keep track of every little bit of food what passes your child’s lips on a daily basis. While you’re probably trying your best to pack your little one full of nutrients in the form of fruits and veggies that’s not to say they don’t manage to sneakily avoid them, or fill up on sugar while they’re at school.

The good news is nutritional deficiencies are easy to spot and treat – especially when they’re caught early.

Here are the most common deficiencies in kids, and how to stop them:

  1.  Vitamin D

Our skin produces this essential vitamin when exposed to sunlight, and it’s essential that our bodies receive enough as it plays a major role in the absorption of calcium – which is vital to bone strength and healthy teeth.

Children who aren’t exposed to sunlight often usually suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, which means it’s important they get it through their diet or through supplements.

Signs of a vitamin D deficiency are bone and muscle soreness. If not corrected, a lack of vitamin D can lead to Rickets – a skeletal deformity.

  1.  Iron

Iron is essential in the body as it makes it possible for red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout our bodies. A deficiency in iron is known as anaemia.

Symptoms of a lack of iron in your little one’s diet include tiredness, pale skin (especially around the hands, nails, and eyelids), rapid heartbeat or a heart murmur, irritability, low appetite, dizziness, or even a condition known as pica (eating non-food items such as dirt).

To combat these signs, make sure your little one is getting enough protein in the form of red meat, spinach, cheese and nuts. Also, try giving them a healthy supplement to up their iron levels.

  1.  Vitamin B

This essential vitamin helps one’s immune system stay strong, which helps fight germs, viruses and bacteria in the body. It also aids optimal mental function which will keep your little one as bright as a button.

Symptoms of B Vitamin deficiencies may include: nausea, abdominal pains, vomiting, loss of appetite, bad breath, indigestion and constipation. It could also be the reason they’re battling to stay focused or concentrated at school.

The best way to combat this kind of deficiency is through supplementation. This may be a tad expensive but see it as an investment into your child’s health and future.

  1.  Zinc

This mineral is essential when it comes to your child’s health and growth. It’s often forgotten and put on the backburner over minerals like calcium and magnesium.

To spot if your child has a zinc deficiency, look out for a poor appetite, weight loss, and changes in the sense of taste and/or smell. If left untreated, a lack of zinc in your child’s body could lead to hair loss and stunted growth. It will also slow the healing of your child’s scrapes and cuts.

Fish - including scallops and shrimp - are both good sources of zinc, as are nuts, seeds and lamb. Also, opt for a multivitamin that includes zinc and give it to your little ones on a daily basis to ensure that all their nutritional needs are covered.