Balanced diet and regular exercise are important for all persons, particularly school-age children (6-12 years) as it is a critical time in growth and development. Childhood nutrition is essentially and significantly important in growth since it is the determining factor of the child’s health. Growth is steadier and slower in childhood than in infancy, with studies revealing that at the ages of 12-13 most girls reach peak height rapidity. Among boys, a significant ratio is also noted to follow suit with majority reaching their peak height 2-3 years after the girls. Adequate nutrition will help school age children grow to their full potential as well as lay a firm foundation for their healthy life. Therefore these growing bodies will require ample protein alongside other nutrients for proper growth and development.
In order for the body to repair damaged and worn out cells, constant supply of protein is needed. As the primary tissue repair, proteins are wholesomely essential with varied needs throughout the Lifecycle. There are good sources of proteins for children in milk, fish, meat, poultry among other dairy products. It is however considerate for parents to encourage their children daily to eat two to three servings of proteins.
Proteins are found in the food we consume and also in our bodies, they are made up of twenty two different amino acids which may be arranged in many ways and in random classification to generate thousands of different proteins. Among the twenty two amino acids, nine must be obtained through foods and are considered dietary essential. The next thirteen are the nonessentials meaning that they are not necessarily requisite as the body can acquire or make them from other nutrients. As protein and energy fuel the growth of children, it is considerate to eat proteins that are relative to body weight for child and adolescent development.
For building bones and teeth, calcium is significantly important. During childhood years, bone density ought to be a critical matter of consideration. Inadequate provision of calcium-rich foods result to Osteoporosis a disease that results from weakened bones. Calcium rich foods include leafy vegetables, milk, dairy products and some dark green vegetables with large leaves.
Iron is also needed in child growth due to the rapid expansion of blood volume. Parents are advised to occasionally serve their children with foods containing iron such as cereals, meat, fish, poultry and enriched breads.
For growth and physical activity, carbohydrates provide necessary energy required in the development of children. Demanding tasks like schoolwork and play will require energy from regular supplies of glucose. Additionally, enhancement of cognitive functioning requires regular supplies of glucose and it is essential for the development and growth of children.
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Brown, J. E. (2008). Nutrition through the life cycle. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Farrell, M. L., & Nicoteri, J. A. L. (2007). Nutrition. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.