Childhood is a time of incredible growth. Sure, the first two years of life are when development is happening most quickly, but changes and growth continue well into the teen years and even beyond.
Food is what fuels growth. It’s the nutrients in food that our bodies depend on for healthy growth and development. Knowing that as kids get older and begin to make their own choices about what they want to eat, a lot of times nutrient-packed foods like dairy products, fruits and vegetables fall by the wayside. The result? Failing to get essential nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, iron and other nutrients can impair growth and development.
If kids aren’t getting enough nutrient-packed foods that provide the fuel they need, is it appropriate to supplement their diet with a nutritional supplement drink? Yes, supplemental nutritional drinks can help meet daily nutritional needs and fill nutritional gaps found in kids and teens.
Nutrient Needs for Kids
You know from grocery shopping: it can take a lot of foods and beverages to grow a child! Relative to their size, kids take in a lot of calories and nutrients – all things they need to grow their bodies and be healthy. In fact, the nutrient needs of kids and teens are higher in proportion to their body weight compared with adults. Some of the key nutrients for kids include:
- Calcium to help build strong bones. Milk and dairy products are great sources.
- Protein to support growth and help build and maintain muscle. Foods from animal sources, such as meat, fish, eggs and cheese are considered complete proteins, providing all of the essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein. Beans, nuts and seeds are plant-based sources of protein and are also good nutrient-rich options.
- Iron to carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Red meat is an excellent source of iron, but you can also get this nutrient from beans, enriched bread and fortified foods such as breakfast cereal.
- Vitamins C and D to help support the immune system. Vitamin C is in a lot of citrus and other fruits and vegetables. Milk, fatty fish (like salmon), eggs, fortified cereals and nutritional drinks are good sources of vitamin D.
Active Kids Need Even More Nutrition
Children who play sports or are physically active most days need even more calories and nutrients than the average child. That’s because their bodies are rapidly burning fuel. Not only do they need to replenish what they burn, but they also need even more to fuel normal healthy growth and development.
Supplemental Nutritional Drinks Can Help Bridge Nutritional Gaps
90% of children (ages 4-18) fall short of meeting dietary needs for one or more key nutrients including calcium, potassium, choline and vitamins D, E and K. Most kids of all ages aren’t eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy foods. All of these are foods that are bursting with nutrients, so avoiding them means missing out on important vitamins, minerals and fiber. The gaps widen as kids get older, with kids ages 14-18 at greater risk for nutrient shortfalls, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Teens, especially teenage girls, are also not getting enough protein.
Nutritional supplement drinks provide essential nutrients to help meet nutritional needs and fill nutritional gaps. Plus, nutritional drinks are convenient and available in a wide variety of flavors that kids like, so the nutrients go down easy. Sometimes, whatever way you can get nutrients into your child’s body is the best way!
Choosing Supplemental Nutritional Drinks for Kids
Not all kids' nutritional drinks are the same. Look for nutritional drinks with:
- Nutrient-rich calories
- Adequate protein
- Essential vitamins and minerals
- Excellent source of Calcium and Vitamin D (which is 20% or more of the Daily Value)
Carnation Breakfast Essentials® Nutritional Drinks are designed to provide supplemental nutrition with protein, and 21 vitamins and minerals, and are available in a variety of flavors that kids love. These nutritional drinks are great at home or on-the-go, for breakfast or between meals.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the nutritional products that may be right for you or your family.
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