How to Increase Nutrient Absorption for Your Kids
A good diet is essential for your kid’s growth, and is instrumental to instill good dietary habits into them. Children have higher nutrient requirements, but with limited stomach capacity at the moment. Hence, it is important for parents to understand the concept of quality wins quantity. With these principles and tips, it helps your children absorb important nutrients better.
Less Processed Foods
The more processing a food goes through, the more nutrient loss would occur. For instance, the fluffy and delicious white rice has gone through the milling process to remove its bran and a part of its germ, causing the loss of fibre, some vitamin B, manganese and phosphorus. A lot of processed food products in the market have added nutrients into it to make up for the loss, which also compromises on the nutrient absorption rate.
Small Frequent Meals
If your children have a small appetite, why don’t you try arranging small frequent meals for them instead of insisting three full meals a day? That means, adding little healthy snacks in between smaller main meals, which not only provides children the nutrients and energy they need, but also keeps their blood sugar steady, and increases their learning abilities. Study shows, compared to kids who skipped breakfast, those who ate their breakfast and had a healthy snack afterwards consumed a higher variety of essential nutrients.
Pairing foods with different nutrients may actually boost their absorption rate. It is helpful for parents when planning their children’s diet, to ensure their children get a balanced nutrition from their foods.
There are two type of iron, one is haem iron sourced from animal foods, while the other is non-haem iron from plant sources such as spinach; and haem iron is more readily absorbed into the body. Although non-haem iron has a lower absorption rate, pairing it with high vitamin C foods like lemon, orange and capsicum can help increase its absorption. Furthermore, try to avoid eating high calcium foods (such as milk or cheese) at the same time, as calcium impairs iron absorption.
Sufficient calcium consumption is crucial for strong bones and teeth. Calcium can be obtained from a number of sources, such as dairy products, anchovies, tofu, sesame seeds, kale and others. Pairing these foods with foods rich in vitamin D, like salmon, sardine and eggs, or getting sufficient sunlight exposure (for the skin to synthesize vitamin D), helps calcium to absorb better. However, as the body can only absorb a limited amount of calcium at a time, it is recommended to separate consumption of high calcium foods into different meals.
It is found that adding a little fat or oil into salads, makes carotenoids (which maintain healthy eyes and promote immunity), lutein (antioxidants which protects the eyes) and other fat-soluble nutrients (Vitamin A, D, E and K) more readily available to the body. When selecting fats or oils, it is recommended to pick the ones rich in omega-3, for instance flaxseed oil, olive oil, salmon, avocado, etc. These good oils are vital for the development of the brain and the eyes.
Last but not least, parents need to make sure their kids chew their meals properly. Eating slowly prolongs meal times, which reduces the burden on the stomach, and leaves ample time for digestion to occur, hence promoting better nutrient absorption.