Tuesday 21 January 2020

How to Spot Common Nutritional Deficiencies in Children

Nutritional deficiency occurs when the body is not getting enough nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Children’s nutritional needs differ from those of adults primarily because they are growing. These problems that can have immediate and long-term effects on their health, growth and development. Food allergies, iron deficiency, tooth decay and constipation are common in the early years. If caught early, these nutritional deficiencies are much easier to remedy. 

Iron Deficiency (Anemia): Iron makes it possible for red blood cells to transport oxygen to our vital organs and throughout the body. It is commonly found in infants, preschool children, adolescent girls and pregnant women.

Symptoms of iron deficiency, or anemia, include: tiredness, pale skin (especially around the hands, nails, and eyelids), tongue may be smooth, pale and red, brittle and cracked nails, rapid heartbeat or a heart murmur, irritability, low appetite, dizziness, inability to concentrate.

Vitamin D Deficiency: Vitamin D is critical both in its own right, as well as for its role in the absorption of calcium. Both Vitamin D and calcium are vital in growing strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is formed by the action of ultraviolet rays from the sun on the precursor sterols in the skin. Deficiency of Vitamin D causes impairment of calcium absorption from digested food, resulting in rickets in children.

Characteristics: Softened skull in infants, soft fragile bones with bowing of legs, swelling of wrists, knee and ankle joints, poorly developed muscles, delayed dentition, restlessness and nervous irritability.
    If the deficiency is not corrected, it can lead to serious skeletal deformities and a condition known as Rickets.

B Vitamin Deficiency: The B Vitamins are needed in every area of our body and help maintain a strong immune system and optimal mental function.

Symptoms of B Vitamin deficiencies may include: decreased urine output, excessive crying accompanied by thin and plaintive whining, inability to learn and focus at school. loss of appetite, bad breath, weakness, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, etc

Zinc Deficiency: Zinc is a trace mineral that is an essential element for humans and is  often forgotten in terms of discussions about nutritional needs. It usually takes a backseat to other well-known minerals. It is widely distributed throughout the body but the highest concentrations are found in the skin, eye, hair, nails etc. However, zinc is equally important for growth and healthy development in children.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency is characterized by poor appetite, weight loss, stunted growth, small sex glands in boys, skin changes, lightened pigment in hair(dull hair), white spot on fingernails and poor wound healing and changes in the sense of taste and/or smell. If left unchecked, zinc deficiency can lead to stunted growth, poor wound healing, and hair loss.