Essential Facts You Need To Know If Your Child Is Suffering From Micronutrient Deficiency

As a baby my son was diagnosed with rickets. His tiny little legs were starting to get a little crooked at the knees and his wrist bones too.  Rickets is caused due to Vitamin D and calcium deficiency in the body. As you can imagine I was actually quite upset when I learned about it. During the course of the various tests, we also discovered that he was anaemic. Now I was shocked! I was always making sure he was given food which was healthy, homemade and nutritious. So what happened? I was told that he was suffering from micronutrient deficiency.

What Is Micronutrient Deficiency?

Micronutrient deficiency is the lack of essential vitamins and minerals that our body requires in small amounts by the body for proper growth and development.

Common micronutrients include -Vitamins A, B, C and D, Calcium, Iodine, Zinc, Iron and Folate.When we feed our kids, we're normally addressing their macronutrient requirement needs for carbohydrates, protein and fats.

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Studies show that iron deficiency in India is highest among the children of age group of 6-23 months. Also, the reports highlight that children of age group 1-3 years consume only one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron which ultimately leads to the iron deficiency. One in every three children is suffering from this deficiency. It's also called 'hidden hunger' since the symptoms are not visible. A parent feels their child is healthy and active, but internally it may not be so.

The 1000 Days Mark

Experts say that the first 1000 days of an infant are very important for its physical growth and immunity building. What is more important to know is that  90% of the brain develops in first 1000 days. Even mild anaemia in the first 1000 days will affect the cognitive functions in a child. Any such deficiency can weaken the child's immunity levels and resistance to any illness.

Deficiency Signs To Look Out For

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  • Falling ill repeatedly
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Lethargy
  • Cavities
  • Flathead Syndrome
  • Dry Skin and hair
  • Delayed speech
  • Obesity

Do Vitamin and D3 Supplements Help?

While supplements may help a little, what the child needs is fortified healthy food. Good nutrition means excluding high fat and sugary snacks and including nutrient-rich foods like green vegetables, dairy products, nuts and fruits, which are powerhouses of micronutrients.

What New Moms Need To Know:

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  • Focus on a diet that is rich in nutrients for yourself as well as your child. We understand that kids prefer processed food over vegetables but you have to make a change.
  • Give your baby/child diverse things to eat so that a wider spectrum of food nutrients can get covered and absorbed.
  • Add food like spinach, legumes, chickpeas, kidney beans, cheese, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds like pumpkin and flax to your grocery basket.
  • Opt for fortified food for your family. Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients to food. Examples of fortified food available in India are milk, cereals and yoghurt.
  • Children need a minimum of eight hours of sleep. Studies have shown that children who sleep for less than seven hours a night are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Their bodies are not strong enough to fight any virus attack.

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