By Thelma Ledford
Children’s Nutrition: While the signs of malnutrition, or undernourishment, can be mistaken for those of disease, neglect, or other causes, the signs of health and good nutrition are unmistakable.
A healthy, well-nourished child has shiny hair that is firm in the scalp; and a malnourished child, especially one with a protein deficiency, has dull, brittle, and loose hair.
The well-nourished child has bright, clear eyes with no dark circles; the iron-deficient child has pale eye membranes and dark circles.
The healthy, well-nourished child has bright eyes and sees well; in Vitamin A deficiency, the eyes adjust slowly to the dark and the skin is dry.
The teeth of the well-nourished child are bright and healthy, and the gums are firm, but if the gums bleed easily, this may be a symptom of Vitamin C deficiency.
Strong, straight bones are indicative of adequate nutrition: bent bones are a Vitamin D deficiency. Strong muscles reflect adequate energy and protein intake; a wasted appearance of muscles occurs with energy deprivation as the body breaks down its own protein for energy.
Poor growth, apathy, weakness, and poor skin color also suggest protein deficiency; edema in the belly and legs indicates that the fluid balance is disturbed. Frequent infections also suggest malnutrition with respect to protein and other nutrients.
Poor appetite and impaired taste acuity may indicate zinc deficiency. None of these symptoms is diagnostic of a particular deficiency, but they do suggest the need for further tests.
Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM) takes a toll both domestically and worldwide, even in the USA. PEM affects a third to a half of all hospitalized children. Disease and infection are its most common precursors there, while outside the hospital, poverty is its most common cause.
Vitamin A Deficiency: Hundreds of thousands of children in the developing countries of the world go blind each year from this deficiency, and they could also experience stunted growth, decreased appetite, increased infections, and illnesses.
It is an enormous problem, yet it is preventable. When children who are deficient are given a supplement, they gain weight and grow taller. It also benefits the immune system and prevents night blindness.
Vitamin D Deficiency causes rickets. Rickets was virtually nonexistent in our country during the 50s, 60s, and early 70s, but medical workers reported several cases around 1980. There are several risk factors which contribute to rickets: Premature birth, pigmented skin, lack of exposure to sunlight, prolonged, un-supplemented breastfeeding, and vegetarian diets.
Iron Deficiency is the most prevalent nutrient deficiency among the children in the U.S. and Canada. The high iron needs of growth combined with typically low iron intakes leave many children with marginal iron status. Of all the nutrition problems accused of causing abnormal behavior, iron deficiency is probably most often guilt as charged.
Zinc Deficiency is as widespread as is protein-energy and Vitamin A deficiencies, and these typically occur together. Poor appetite and depressed growth have been observed in children with chronic or mild zinc deficiency. Pronounced growth retardation and impaired sexual development result when the condition is severe.
High blood lead concentrations are associated with iron, calcium, or zinc deficiencies. They cannot be held totally accountable, but it does impair the body’s defenses against the absorption of lead. A child with iron-deficiency anemia is three times more vulnerable. It is important to see that these needs are met.
It would be very wise to see that children as well as adults receive supplementation. Use the same wisdom in choosing them for children as we’ve suggested in previous articles.
Children’s Nutrition: My child doesn’t eat much sugar! Really? Do this sugar demonstration with him to be sure. Read the following menu allowing the child to measure the teaspoons of sugar into a large measuring cup. You’ll find it shocking.
Breakfast: (10 t. sugar) Cereal, milk, toast, jelly, 4 ounces of Awake orange juice
Mid-morning: (9 t. sugar) Glazed donut, 4 ounces of Awake orange juice
Lunch: (l6 t. sugar) Soup, crackers (9 ingredients in saltines are cancer-causing) one-half peanut butter and jelly sandwich, 2 cookies, small Kool Aid.
Mid-Afternoon: (15 t. sugar) Pudding, 2 cookies, small Kool-Aid
Supper: (19 t. sugar) Bread, butter, main course, small Kool-Aid and Chocolate cake
This person used about 69 teaspoons of sugar in one day.
Try a menu like this:
Breakfast: Oatmeal (not instant) with raisins, diced apple, nuts, cinnamon.
Mid-morning: One-half slice l00 percent whole wheat with unsweetened peanut butter/apple butter.
Lunch: Tuna sandwich with raw veggies.
Mid-afternoon: Carrot, fruit, or raw nuts in the shell.
Supper: Brown rice and beans topped with cheese, green salad, baked apple with touch of honey. Use pure water, if possible, with meals. No flavored drinks. Use supplements only with meals. And, there is little cooking with these meals.
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