Canadian kids are not getting all the nutrients they need from their diet, according to the Canadian Community Health Survey (2004, 2012). Specifically, kids and adolescents, ages 4 to 18, are getting inadequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium.
In addition, the survey found that adolescents ages 9–18 were getting less than the recommended amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, and phosphorous (the latter is often linked to calcium deficiency).
How to ensure your kids get the nutrients they need:
1. Plan strategic meals: Include foods rich in vitamin A (e.g. sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, squash, and carrots), calcium, and magnesium (e.g. nuts, seeds, whole grains).
2. Send them outside to play or enroll them in outdoor sports so they get exposure to the sun: we humans make our own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
3. Give kids a vitamin D supplement; one popular brand is D Drops—it’s tasteless and you just need a drop a day.
4. Space out the calcium. Our bodies only absorb about 500 mg of calcium in one sitting, so be sure kids are getting calcium at different times of the day.
| Dietary Reference Intakes from Health Canada:|
|0-6 months||200 mg||0-12 months||400 IU|
|7-12 months||260 mg||1-18 years||600 IU|
|1-3 years||700 mg|
|4-8 years||1,000 mg|
|9-18 years||1,300 mg|
5. Encourage regular exercise: it increases bone mass and prevents calcium loss.
7. Keep it simple with a varied diet. By aiming for 4 – 8 servings of varied fruits and veggies every day in a rainbow of colours, you can maximize your child’s chances of getting all the nutrients he or she needs. (See fruit and veg serving recommendations by age.)
* Vitamins are considered supplements only and should not replace meals
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