6 Reasons Why Every Kid and Teen Needs a Nutrient-Rich Breakfast

Ever wonder why they say, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day"?

Support Healthy Growth

Nutrient needs for kids and teens are higher compared to any other time in life!

90% of children fall short of meeting dietary needs for one or more key nutrients* Failing to get enough calories, protein, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, iron and other nutrients can slow growth.

Nutrients that are missed at breakfast are unlikely to be made up later in the day, so a morning meal helps to get a head start on the nutrition needed to support physical growth and development.

Fuel Their Day

Smaller bodies store less energy than adults, and after an overnight fast, a new fuel source is needed.

Breakfast gets your metabolism moving and should provide about 20% of daily energy needs. But, many children and teens don't get near that amount.

About 1 in 4 teens skip breakfast altogether, and that can mean missing out on essential nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and fiber. Teens who skip breakfast also have lower diet quality and lower dietary intake of fruits and whole grains.

Starting the day with breakfast helps fuel the mind and body for the day ahead.

replenish protein

Protein supports growth, builds lean muscle, and strengthens bones.

While you sleep, your body breaks down more protein than it builds. Eating a breakfast with at least 7 grams of milk-based protein (compared to a meal with no protein) can help a child's body recover that loss and improve protein balance to support growth.

Including protein at breakfast seems to offer benefits that aren't seen when the same amount of protein is consumed later in the day.

build strong bones

Breakfast can help kids and teens get the bone-building calcium they need.

Getting enough calcium throughout childhood is important, but especially during adolescence. This is when bones store calcium at the highest rate.

By 18 years of age, about 90% of the bone mass you'll have in your lifetime has been formed, so the calcium stored now is key to the bone mass you'll have as an adult. Getting calcium through food sources is the way to go, as your body uses the calcium in foods more easily.

Regularly including calcium-rich foods in the diet, such as dairy and fortified foods, is also a great habit to last a lifetime.

vitamin d is key

More than 90% of children and teens don't get the vitamin D they need each day.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for immune support. Vitamin D is also needed for growth and bone health because it helps your body absorb calcium, a key building block for bones. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, certain foods, and supplements.

While sunlight helps, several factors can affect sun exposure including where you live, the time of year, the amount of time spent outdoors, sunscreen use, and extensive skin coverage with clothing.

Adding vitamin D-fortified milk or nutritional drinks to breakfast can help meet kids' needs.

iron is essential

Iron helps blood deliver oxygen to the body.

Growing kids and teens need more iron as their blood volume increases and their muscles grow.

Kids and teens who skip breakfast have lower intakes of iron compared to those who don't. Teen girls have higher iron needs than teen boys and are at the greatest risk for deficiency. Including fortified cereal and nutritional drinks at breakfast are great ways to get this essential nutrient.

 

*Average percentage of individuals (ages 4–18) with usual dietary intake below the EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) or AI (Adequate Intake):

Sources: Aranow C. J Investig Med 2011;59:881-86./Deshmukh-Taskar PR et al. J Am Diet Assoc 2010;10:869-78./ Drewnowski A et al. Nutrients 2018;10(9). pii:E1200./Golden NH, Abrams SA.Pediatrics 2014;134:e1229./IOM, NAS. DRIs for Calcium and Vitamin D. 2011./IOM, NAS. DRIs for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. 2005./IOM, NAS. DRIs for Vitamins A & K, As, B, Cr, Cu, I, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Si, V and Zn. 2001./Karagounis LG et al. J Nutr 2018;148:729-37./Mathias KC et al J Nutr 2017;147:1160-66. /Mesias M et al. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2013;53:1226-37./Rampersaud GC et al. J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:743-60./Ramsay SA et al. Eur J Clin Nutr 2018;72:548-56./Spear BA. J Am Diet Assoc 2002;102:S23-S29./USDA, ARS. 2020. What We Eat In America, NHANES 2017-2018./USHHS and USDA. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans./USHHS and USDA. 2015-2020 DGA. 2015. Appendix E-2.1.

Good Nutrition From the Start®

Protein

to support growth and help build & maintain muscle

Vitamins C & D

key nutrients for immune support

Calcium

to help build strong bones & teeth

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