Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the body, especially during growth throughout childhood, since thousands of chemical reactions are needed for the cellular development of children to carry out normally and, for this, they are essential vitamins.
As its name indicates, the word vitamin, which etymologically comes from vita (life) and amine (chemical substance), means a substance necessary for life. Most vitamins, except for vitamin D that is manufactured by the body through the skin when we sunbathe, must be ingested through food. Therefore, a healthy and balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, but also in meat, fish and cereals provides the necessary amount of vitamins that children need.
There is no food that contains all the vitamins that the body needs, the 13 necessary for proper body development, but there is no food that contains only one. Therefore, the varied and balanced diet plays an important role in the growth and development of children.
However, an abuse of vitamins can be harmful, if we take into account the characteristics of vitamins themselves, which are divided into two groups: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are those that are diluted in water and the body eliminates the excess through the urine, while fat-soluble vitamins are those that dissolve in fats and are not eliminated, they accumulate in the body, specifically in the liver, and too much can be toxic.
For this reason, it is very important to refrain from offering vitamin supplements to children, without medical advice. Only children who suffer from chronic diseases, related to poor absorption of nutrients, may require the intake of vitamin supplements.
Special mention should be made of the case of breast-feeding newborns, whose mother is a vegetarian. Although breastfeeding provides all the nutrients that the baby needs, only strict vegetarian mothers produce milk without vitamin B12, essential for the formation of the baby's blood and, for this reason, it is important that these infants receive a vitamin supplement B12 during lactation.
Of course, breastfeeding does not provide enough vitamin D to the baby, since it is a vitamin that is not acquired through food, but must be manufactured by the body through exposure of the skin to sunlight. This is the reason why many babies receive vitamin D supplements during their first months of life, especially if they were born in the fall and winter.
Vitamin deficiency can cause specific diseases, which are practically eradicated in the civilized world. Thus, vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, vitamin K deficiency leads to bleeding, and vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets.
However, a child with a varied and balanced diet does not need vitamin supplements. Contrary to some popular myths, vitamins do not whet the appetite, but they allow the body to function properly because they act as catalysts for chemical processes and function as antioxidants, improving cell activity.
1. Folic acid or vitamin B6
Water soluble. It is essential for cell reproduction and therefore for neuronal growth and development. It is in legumes, citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables.
2. B12 vitamin
Water soluble. Participates in the multiplication of red blood cells in the blood and is involved in the development of the nervous system. It is abundant in fish, dairy, red meat, eggs and pork.
3. Vitamin A or beta carotene
Fat soluble. It has antioxidant properties and is essential for enhancing the immune system and developing vision. Helps in the formation of skin, bones and teeth. It is present in dairy, green leafy vegetables, carrots, squash, oils and fish.
4. Vitamin E
Fat soluble. Important for brain development, it acts as an antioxidant and is involved in the formation of white and red blood cells. It is found in eggs, oil, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.
5. Vitamin D
Fat soluble. It helps to absorb calcium and therefore intervenes in the mineralization of bones and teeth. It is present in trace amounts in fish, eggs, milk and liver.
6. Vitamin C
Water soluble. It is involved in the reconstruction of tissues, therefore, it keeps the skin and ligaments in optimal condition, and helps to strengthen the body's defenses. It serves to better absorb iron from food and thus prevent anemia. Citrus fruits, kiwi fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamin C.
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