Nutrients are very important for our body and we need them in proper amounts to grow and be healthy. They are of two types – Macronutrients and Micronutrients.
Macronutrients are the nutrients which give us quick energy and are very important for us. Three main macronutrients are- Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats. These three work together for our body and although carbohydrates have got a bad name lately, they are needed for body in the same way as other nutrients.
As a dietician, I never recommend crash diets or any diet which has no carbohydrates in them. They are important to keep our energy levels in check.
Vitamins and minerals are two micronutrients that we get from the food we eat and need these in proper amounts to avoid any deficiencies. Cells need them to make energy in our body.
It is called ‘Hidden Hunger’ and it develops slowly but causes irreversible damage to the body. It is very common in India where due to poverty, many moms are not able to provide healthy and nutritious food to the kids. As a result, they develop problems like cognitive delays, weak immunity, stunted growth and low immunity.
After 6 months of age, an infant is more prone to nutritional deficiencies as the needs for micronutrients are more. Mostly mothers focus on the physical growth of the child and do not understand that they need nutrients for the brain development as well.
Diet makes a huge difference and if it’s rich in only carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, it will support only physical growth. Micronutrients are essential for overall development of the child. So, it’s not necessary that if a child looks physically healthy, he/she will not be suffering from deficiencies. It is important to pay attention to micronutrients such as calcium, vitamins, and minerals. There is a high morbidity rate in India in Infants due to problems like diarrhea and viral infections.
Pediatrics highlight that Iron deficiency in infants is linked to impaired cognition, needs attention in early years of life
Nutritional iron deficiency happens when physiological requirements cannot be met by iron absorption from the normal diet. Infants are at high risk due to their rapid growth and limited dietary sources. In India, iron deficiency is highest (49.5%) among children in the age group of 6-23 months. Studies have shown that Indian children aged 1-3 years consume only one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron. Iron plays a very important role in a baby’s brain development and cognition, and iron and zinc help in the development of baby’s immunity.
90% of the brain develops in the first 1000 days. Mild iron deficiency in the first 1000 days can also lead to impaired cognitive function in a child’s later life.
Why is it important to act early on your child’s nutrition needs?
Diet plays a major role and childhood is the foundation. Malnutrition is the major cause of infant’s death across the world. First 1000 days of life are very important for overall development of the child. As they grow older, these things are not easy to correct.
So, nutritional requirements need to be seen on the priority basis.
Healthy and nutritious food are the priority and the role of micronutrients should not be forgotten.