Must-Eat Nutrients For Your Child

Every parent has heard that children should be eating a "balanced diet." But a balance of what? Here are the nine nutrients that every child should be getting on a daily basis:
1. Protein

Protein helps a child's body build cells, break down food into energy, fight infection, and carry oxygen. Foods that contain high levels of protein include:

    Meat
    Poultry
    Fish
    Eggs
    Nuts
    Beans
    Dairy products

2. Carbohydrates

While the latest diet trend is to "cut the carbs," carbohydrates are actually the body's most important source of energy. They help a child's body to use fat and protein for building and repairing tissue. Carbohydrates come in several different forms (sugars, starches, and fiber), but kids should be eating more of the starches and fibers and less of the sugar. Foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates include:

    Breads
    Cereals
    Rice
    Crackers
    Pasta
    Potatoes

3. Fats

Fats are a great source of energy for kids and are easily stored in a child's body. They are also important in helping the body to properly use some of the other nutrients it needs. Foods that contain high levels of fats include:

    Whole-milk dairy products
    Cooking oils
    Meat
    Fish
    Nuts

 4. Calcium

Calcium is essential in helping to build a child's healthy bones and teeth. It's also important for blood clotting and for nerve, muscle, and heart function. Foods that contain high levels of calcium include:

    Milk
    Cheeses
    Yogurt
    Ice cream
    Egg yolks
    Broccoli
    Spinach
    Tofu

5. Iron

Iron is necessary for a child to build healthy blood that carries oxygen to cells all over the body. Foods that contain high levels of iron include:

    Red meats
    Liver
    Poultry
    Shellfish
    Whole grains
    Beans
    Nuts
    Iron-fortified cereals

6. Folate

Folate, necessary for soon-to-be moms, is also very important for kids. One of the B vitamins, folate is necessary for healthy growth and development of a child's cells. Lack of this vitamin can cause anemia. Foods that contain high levels of folate include:

    Whole-grain cereals
    Lentils
    Chickpeas
    Asparagus
    Spinach
    Black or kidney beans
    Brussels sprouts