Children’s diets: where are the gaps?
Healthy eating is important for everyone, especially children, to ensure that they receive all the nutrients they need to grow and develop. Take a look at What is a balanced diet? and Why are nutrients important? sections for tips on promoting a balanced diet and understanding the importance of different nutrients for your child’s growth and development.
Children's diets in the UK appear to have improved over recent years, however there are still children who do not meet the Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) for many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, Zinc and Iron.1
Fibre, omega-3 fats, vitamin D and amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are also very important for children’s diets which is why is it important your child has a healthy, balanced diet including grains, oily fish and protein.
Amino acids are split into two categories, essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids, which cannot be made in the body, must be taken in through the diet. In children, more amino acids are considered essential as they cannot make enough to meet their needs. This strengthens the need to make sure they get a wide range of protein sources, to make sure they are getting all the essential amino acids.2
The Department of Health focuses on the importance of vitamins A, C and D in children’s diets. These can be difficult for children to get enough of in their daily diet.3 The Department of Health therefore recommends that all children from 6 months to 5 years old are given supplements providing these three vitamins.3
If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.
- Public Health England, National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2016 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/551352/NDNS_Y5_6_UK_Main_Text.pdf Accessed 6th April 2017
- British Nutrition Foundation, 2016 https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html?limit=1 Accessed 6th April 2017
- NHS Choices, 2015: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/vitamins-for-children.aspx Accessed 7th April 2017