We all know that kids need good nutrition to stay happy, healthy and well, but did you know that many areas of the body go through crucial growth phases in our younger years? Health and wellbeing, in these early years, can impact the effectiveness of a child’s development and have a profound effect on our health in our adult life.
It's important to look at general health, but here are some areas that are important to focus on for a child’s health, to ensure good foundations for their wellbeing later into life.
Children's Bone health
Optimal bone growth occurs in our childhood and teens. In fact, 90% of our peak bone mass occurs by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys. Bone development starts in utero from weeks eight and nine in pregnancy, which is why pregnant women sometimes need to consume additional minerals to help their baby’s bone development, as well as maintaining their own. As we continue to develop, 40% of our bone mass is built between ages 9 -14; a time when kids often experience a growth spurt.
Once our bones are fully developed, they are maintained by a continuous process of breaking down old bones cells and replacing them with new ones. This is known as remodelling and after our 30’s the rate at which we can replenish bone starts to decline. Therefore, starting with optimal bone health in childhood, means we have a good foundation to start from and hopefully supports strong bones over our lifetime.
Nutrients important for bone health
It is well known that calcium is one of the key minerals for bones as it is used to support bone strength. However, magnesium is also important as it supports bone flexibility and without it bones would be more breakable. Vitamin D is known to be essential for supporting the balance of calcium levels in the body and can be absorbed into the body from exposure to sunlight.
Diet is important for obtaining key minerals and vitamins. Good sources include meat, fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products, and eggs. Wholefood sources of calcium are great, however, at times of rapid growth kids may need some extra nutritional support.
Clinicians Kids BoneCare is a delicious chewable tablet, which contains the key vitamins and minerals for the body to support strong healthy bones.
Children's Brain health
Childhood is an important time for our brain to develop skills and learning pathways, to ensure we can continue to gather and process information throughout our lives. The main period of development is from birth until the end of our teens, where we physically develop the area of the brain, located behind the forehead, known as the prefrontal cortex.
During this time, we develop the network of nerves (neurons) in our brain, that facilitate learning. It is an important time for setting up brain circuitry that allows us to deal with an ever-changing external world and to develop skills for decision making, expanding language, and mathematical reasoning.
How can we support brain health?
Sleep is essential for many things, including brain development. For example, at night our brain takes short term memories, sorts out what to keep, and stores away information needed for later. It is also a time when brain repair and maintenance take place. Nutrients needed for the body to build healthy brain cells include protein, essential fatty acids (like Omega 3), glucose and many vitamins and minerals. Ironically, many foods that are good for the brain look like a brain too, think cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbages, and walnuts.
Clinicians Kids Brain Beams is formulated with a protein that supports brain nutrition for mental clarity and focus. And Kids Peaceful Dreams is a delicious sugar free herbal syrup to support bedtime relaxation and a good night’s sleep.
Children's Healthy teeth and gums
As children develop from babies into toddlers, they start to grow teeth. The first teeth grown are called baby teeth or deciduous teeth as they will be replaced by permanent teeth between 6 - 12 years. Many people think that because baby teeth are not for life, then caring for them is not so important. However, it has been shown that the health of baby teeth can affect the growth of the permanent teeth, which will hopefully last us a lifetime.
The main area of focus for tooth health is related to the bacterial populations in the mouth. Several bacteria such as Streptococci mutans have been linked with tooth decay. This is because they use the sugars in our foods to create acids that can affect dental enamel causing holes. Bacterial balance is also important for gum health. Healthy gums are important to hold our teeth in place.
How to look after our kids’ teeth
Getting kids to develop their tooth brushing skills is by far the most important way of maintaining teeth, along with managing the number of sweet treats that kids eat. Minerals are as important for developing strong healthy teeth, as they are bones.
Clinicians Kids Tooth Protect provides a unique probiotic that support orals health, which provides great support whilst kids develop their brushing skills.
Children's Eye health
We may not realise it, but vision is developed in our childhood, there are several vision milestones that occur when we are too young to remember. For instance, we learn how to focus as a baby and to track the movement of objects. We also develop full colour vision between 5 – 7 months and depth perception around 7 – 12 months. It is said that the first six years of a child’s life is the most significant period for sight development.
Limiting screen time and nutrition to support eye health
One of the greatest threats to eye heath now is from light pollution. Blue light from devices can damage the back of the eye and constant use of close-up devices can lead to eye dryness and strain. Limiting screen time is certainly important. Also, eating bright coloured fruits and vegetables provides antioxidants, which are helpful for eye health. Look for red, purple and orange fruits and vegetables.
Children's Ear health
Hearing is also something that develops as a child, from just hearing sound as a baby, to recognising sounds; for instance a parent’s voice. We develop an understanding of intonation and of course hearing provides feedback for developing speech. Hearing is an essential part of our development for learning and our ears are an important part of our balance.
Take note of food intolerances for healthy ears
One thing that seems to be common is for children to get ear congestion and bacterial imbalances. This is a normal part of development, but in some children is a more common occurrence and in more serious cases can affect the internal structures of the ear. Often pressure changes in the sinus cavity can affect ear health as they are all internally linked. Kids that have a lot of mucous and stuffy noses can be prone to ear issues. One area to consider is food intolerance and dairy products could be one food to look at with children with repeat issues and lots of mucous. Keeping the sinuses clear can certainly help support ear health.
Clinicians Kids Nasal Clear is an easy-to-use spray for little noses to support easy breathing.
Clinicians Kids is new to the Clinicians Range. We have always had products to support children, but our new range looks to provide some more unique solutions in different areas of children’s health. .
Looking for ways to keep the kids busy? Enjoy these fun Clinicians Colouring Sheets.
Always read the label. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Dietary supplement are not a replacement for a balanced diet.
Douglas Pharmaceuticals, Auckland.