Micronutrients and Child Health – Are Our Children Getting Enough From Their Food?

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When it comes to food it’s really not hard to get micronutrients and child health to coincide. Think about it. As we discussed in my last blog, eating whole foods, eliminating processed foods, and as often as we are able purchasing organic foods or foods that are low in pesticide exposures, will dramatically increase access to the needed nutrition. Our bodies, both ours and that of our children, need micronutrients.

Sources of Vitamin C ...oh so good for you and me!

Sources of Vitamin C …oh so good for you and me!

A short list of micronutrients includes:

  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Vitamins (examples: A, B12, C, D, K, Niacin are just a few)
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Calcium

To give you an example of the critical contributions of a micronutrient, here is a quote from keymicronutrients.com. “Manganese, which should not be confused with magnesium, is required in only very small amounts. …Manganese is a component of several enzymes which metabolize carbohydrates and amino acids. Manganese is also involved in bone formation.”  A deficiency in manganese, apparently not often seen, could be a big deal if it affects metabolism and bone health. Selenium is a whole other story and critical to glucose management and cell health and apparently a deficiency has the potential for giving cancer a foothold.

We all have heard the saying, junk in junk out, sadly when it comes to eating that equates to junky health.

Not good, not good at all.

The more I study in this area, the more urgently I feel the importance of getting the word out and finding a way to make it easy to understand and use.  My blogs on food and its relation to our child’s health and ours, will become a series of blogs here.  It just won’t be possible to do these subjects justice in a blog of less than 1000 words and I am finding that I’m barely scratching the surface, as I did in the first blog on this subject titled:  Brain Food Nutrition – Does Food REALLY Make That Much of a Difference?

I want you to be able to read and absorb the information so I don’t want the blogs to become too long.

So stay with me on this.

We are going to take a walk through the forest of good choices in eating.

Let’s Just Get a Couple of Things Out of the Way

Two problems need to be addressed.  First the access to nutritious food that our children will regularly eat which is a two-fold issue and the second is the correct functioning of our children’s digestive system.

FIRST:  Draw a picture now in your mind of a tennis court. With that in mind think now about the remarkable organ, our small intestines.  They are lined with tiny fingerlike projections called villi that are lined with blood vessels. When food is broken down into the component building blocks it is picked up by the blood in these villi which distributes the micronutrients to every cell calling for it in the body, some 3 trillion different cells.

Important VILLI that are designed to bring nutrients into the blood stream for distribution to all cells

Important VILLI that are designed to bring nutrients into the blood stream for distribution to all cells

 

Spread all of the vili out and it will cover, a tennis court!  That’s right!  Now that’s allot of surface area that increases the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

So from the time we begin chewing our food, (and we should chew food well), saliva begins the process of breaking food down, then through the stomach and small to large intestines we are absorbing food or the water from that food, (also a critical concern and the subject of a future blog, water that is).

 

This is clearly just skimming the surface, but do you get where I’m going with this? We have to be able to properly digest our food and be able to absorb those important building blocks into our systems. This is even MORE important for a child whose digestive system doesn’t work at its best. Adequate nutrition for supporting, even improving on their health is critically important.

SECOND: Let’s talk about food accessibility. The bottom line is that unprocessed foods are usually cheaper and readily available, far more than fresh organic foods.  And in some areas of the world, and shockingly in the United States this also holds true, access to healthy nutritious food isn’t possible because local grocery stores or markets aren’t accessible.   And where there are fully stocked groceries, author Michael Pollan has said, shop the outside perimeter of the store, not the isles and you will increase the value of the foods in your shopping basket.UnitedNationsFAO

Here is something that could shock and amaze you. “Nearly 60% of all childhood deaths are either directly or indirectly related to malnutrition.” And “Zinc deficiency contributes to as many as 800,000 child deaths annually.” (Quotes from Project Healthy Children) Now of course this is on the opposite spectrum from where we might personally be in our region or country when it comes to accessing fresh foods but these statistics illustrate how important nutrition is to health and well-being.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) published in the US National Library of Medicine a peer assessment of food availability studies.  In the abstract of this article it stated: “Increasingly, studies are focusing on the role the local food environment plays in residents’ ability to purchase affordable, healthy and nutritious foods. In a food desert, an area devoid of a supermarket, access to healthy food is limited.”

Lovely variety of fresh organic food.

Lovely variety of fresh organic food.

lovelyfoods-2i

Have you noticed? Foods grown on living soils taste so much better.

 

And the Center for Disease Control in the United States published a report that stated that “According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, persons in the United States aged ≥2 years should increase their intake of certain nutrient-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contribute important nutrients that are underconsumed in the United States.”

Remember this is a twofold consideration. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a well-stocked grocery store that has a well managed produce and meat departments that’s one issue, the second related issue is if this grocery store stocks organic vegetables and fruits and grass fed meats. Then there is the whole difficult problem of a well-functioning digestive system.

Okay, enough said!  I just needed to be sure and get this out in the open, these two IMPORTANT considerations: The body has to access the nutrients with a well-functioning digestive system and we have to be able to access good food grown on good soils that are rich in micronutrients.

Here are some EXAMPLES of the function of micronutrients in supporting health.

COPPER: Component of key enzymes, some of which are involved in the production of hemoglobin and collagen.

IODINE: Required for proper thyroid gland function. The thyroid produces hormones that help regulate metabolism without iodine these hormones can’t be made. And sadly there is a pervasive iodine deficiency in the United States. And iodized salt does not provide enough bioavailable iodine to correct the problem.

CHROMIUM: Increases the action of insulin which maintains normal blood sugar levels.

VITAMIN D: Increases calcium and phosphorous absorption in the intestines ensuring strong bones.

Biotin...a B Vitamin

Biotin…a B Vitamin

 

VITAMIN B6: Important in over 100 enzymes that involve protein metablolism. Also required in production of hemoglobin and the proper function of red blood cells.  (Click on graphic for an expanded view.)

VITAMIN B12: Critically important in maintaining healthy nerves and red blood cells. Interestingly, it is required in the building blocks of DNA genetic material.

 

 

No one likes shots but this could be a critical addition to overall health.

No one likes shots but this could be a critical addition to overall health.

I believe it is important to note that folks with gastrointestinal disorders often have impaired absorption of Vitamin B12.  This is an example of where it is important to have a physician testing for serum B12.   If there is impaired absorption then the doctor may recommend intramuscular injections.

 

There is so much more, so very much more that we could say here about micronutrients.

But this brief summary probably has you thinking, right?

Do you wonder about what your child is eating at school?

Do you wonder if their digestive track is capturing all the nutrition from the food we serve them?

What about absorbing that critical Vitamin B so that nerves and red bloods are functioning well?

 

Our food is the foundation of good health!

What do you think? Do you have some experience with this and your child that could help someone else?  Share you story here! Please do comment or send me an email if you have any questions…want me to expand on something…let me know.  There is so much more that we could write on this subject and in time we will include more in future blogs!

Leave a comment below or by all means Contact Me Here and I will get back with you.  I look forward to your feedback on this important subject.

4 Responses to “Micronutrients and Child Health – Are Our Children Getting Enough From Their Food?

  • Very informative and helpful post!

    And wow do I love the way this site looks and navigates … what theme are you using? Did you use a plugin to get all the posts to appear on the home page, with images linking to the content?

    Very cool, I am impressed.

    • admin

      Hello Marvin. Glad you have found something of value here. I hope to touch others who have this on their plate in a helpful way…maybe give them some hope along the way.

      Regarding the design of my site, I have been using the lessons and provisions through the Wealthy Affiliate University. I will tag you back in that community with some of the details regarding my theme here and all that sort of thing that are not salient to the subject of my blog. Would like to say though that I am very glad I found the resources in that community. I am learning allot and hope that I will be able to effectively reach out because of my learning curve there. (I talk a little about that in my “About Us” page.)

      Linda

  • I appreciate the focus on nutrition as it relates to health and wellness. It is extremely important, and our health care system almost entirely ignores this fact. There is so much more to delve into on this subject, and I look forward to reading more!
    David

    • admin

      I so agree with you David. Our health care system, especially here in the United States is sadly driven by the pharmaceutical industry. Good, wholesome, food, preferably organic is the absolute best choice in setting a solid foundation for our health. I have barely skimmed the surface here and only wish my days were 32 hours, (everyone else can have 24), but I find even with managing time as best I can the day slips away. I hope you will come back and look for more in my blog and if you know of someone who could benefit from this information I would be very grateful if you would share it with them.

      Thank you very much for dropping in and reading and commenting!

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