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Common Vitamin Deficiencies in Children

It is no secret that vitamins are critical for your child's development. Vitamins are one of the most crucial nutrients for healthy growth in kids, so making sure they are getting enough is essential. As parents, we do our very best to provide our kids with a healthy diet, no matter the cost. But even if you are able to manage to get your kids to eat healthy, well-balanced meals they can still have nutritional or vitamin deficiencies.

Truth is, nutritional deficiencies in children are very common. As you already know, when your little ones go from infancy into toddler years, they tend to become “picky eaters” and will voice their distaste for certain foods. This is why introducing children to a variety of foods when they are babies is important as it helps them become accustomed to different taste and textures early on.

But what if I have already have a "Picky Eater"?

vitamin deficiencies in children

But if your child happens to become a “picky eaters”, making sure he or she gets a healthy balance of nutrients suddenly becomes a huge challenge. You are not alone!

Even though general nutritional deficiencies are common, the amount of specific vitamin deficiencies in children in the United States is growing more and more. Studies have shown this is even more apparent in children with neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism.

In order to make sure your child can perform their best, you need to be aware of what the most common vitamin deficiencies are in children. Many of these deficiencies can be detected by your pediatrician, but they don’t always test for them unless your child is showing symptoms already. You have to ask! And if you do test and discover your child has a vitamin deficiency, always check with your pediatrician before giving them any vitamins or supplements.

Here are 4 of the most common vitamin deficiencies found in children:

1. Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is probably the most common of all the possible vitamin deficiencies in children today. Children need iron for a wide variety of functions, so this is an important one to correct. Iron is a part of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from their lungs to the rest of their body where it assists their muscles in the storage and use of oxygen. Without enough iron, children can develop anemia which can lead to lethargy and improper cognitive functioning among other debilitating conditions

2. Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency in children is on the rise. This deficiency is more common in children of color (for both genetic and lifestyle reasons), children who are breastfeeding, and children that have limited exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for the absorption of calcium (along with iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc) in the gastrointestinal tract. Getting enough of this vitamin is necessary for your child’s optimal bone growth and to fend off hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia which is responsible for rickets.

3. Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency is actually ranked as the most commonly known vitamin deficiency according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Lack of calcium is often the culprit for poor development of strong teeth and bones in children. Calcium intake also impacts muscle functioning, heart regulation, blood clotting, enzyme functioning, and the transmission of nervous system messages through the body. Children require a high calcium delivery versus adults, so it is important to make sure the younger kids in the household get more calcium in their food portions than their older teenage siblings.

4. Zinc Deficiency

Zinc is a mineral essential to childhood growth, digestion, sex hormone development, and a strong immunity. And it is often overlooked, not just in children but in pregnant women as well. Zinc deficiency can negatively impact everything from your child’s hair, skin, and nails to their cognitive functioning and even their height! Fortunately, zinc can easily be added to your child’s diet through a variety of foods like seeds, cashews and peanuts, meat, oats, and berries. So no matter the dietary restrictions of your household, zinc can easily make its way onto your child’s plate without much fuss at all.

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics

Mayo Clinic 

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