What looks like an appetizing dish to us, for nutritionists, is a complex set of chemical compounds: amino acids, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and many other substances. Each of these food components participates in its own way in the work of our body and each is important in its own way, and some of them are irreplaceable.
If there are inaccuracies in nutrition (and few of us can boast of their absence), it means that the body does not receive any necessary elements for it. This becomes a particularly significant problem in childhood. There is even an opinion that, in principle, a baby cannot receive all the necessary substances in the right amounts every day, and therefore it cannot do without vitamin and other “supplements”.
Otherwise, to obtain, for example, the daily norm of iodine, the child would have to eat a whole kilogram of fish, folic acid — 300 g of leaf lettuce, and so on. In addition, the amount of vitamins and other valuable components in products has significantly decreased lately due to all sorts of growth enhancers, fertilizers, antibiotics and other “scientific achievements”.
In many ways, these arguments are valid, however, among nutritionists there is another point of view, to which more and more doctors are now leaning. A healthy child who eats a variety of full and does not complain of appetite, supplements in the form of vitamin and other nutritional supplements are not required.
In addition, many products, especially those that belong to the category of baby food, are now enriched with vitamins, minerals and other useful components. So taking all this in pills is necessary only on the prescription of a doctor in cases where there are good reasons for this. To date, there is only one exception to this rule – vitamin D3.
It is recommended to all babies under 1 year old for the prevention of rickets. For the rest of the substances, everything depends on the state of health, age and nutritional characteristics of the child.
Means that help correct nutrition and compensate for the lack of one or another of its components are called nutraceuticals. They serve as additional sources of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fats, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beneficial bacteria.
Many of these drugs belong to the category of dietary supplements, but if the product is produced by a reliable manufacturer, has all the necessary certifications and is used as directed by a doctor, you should not be afraid.
- with a confirmed deficiency of individual food components (for example, iron deficiency anemia);
- with allergies (due to the diet, the menu of small allergy sufferers is very limited);
- with inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (in this case, many substances are absorbed worse)
- often sick children to maintain immunity;
- children with impaired appetite or unbalanced nutrition (capricious little-to-getty loses a lot of vitamins and minerals);
- to improve the effectiveness of treatment or preventive measures (sometimes it is possible to cope with the disease only with sufficient or even increased intake of certain substances: for example, supplementation of the amino acid glycine, which is already present in all proteins, can help with nervous disorders).
In addition to these general rules, there are special nuances in the “handling” of each type of nutrient. Consider them in more detail.
When the body gets everything in abundance, we feel good and do not feel anything special. Much more noticeable on our health is the lack of nutrients – only the difficulty is that it can manifest itself in different ways: from fatigue to frequent colds.
Finding a deficient element and deciding how best to fill it is the task of the doctor.
We are accustomed to consider vitamin and mineral preparations a harmless remedy. Many mothers generally use “vitamins” as a useful substitute for candy, especially since babies enjoy eating sweet drops and marmalades with pleasure.
But they can cause allergies, hypervitaminosis, increased certain health problems (for example, an excess of vitamin D3 can lead to the deposition of calcium in the kidneys). Only a doctor should prescribe them, and for this purpose there must be objective reasons – clinical manifestations of hypovitaminosis, for example, hair loss or delamination of the nails.
It is worth remembering that the lack of vitamins and minerals in a child is often the result of some other health problems: for example, a violation of absorption in the intestines. In this case, the “vitamins” alone will not solve the problem until digestion is normalized.
These important points can only know the doctor.
Probiotics are called living lacto-and bifidobacteria, which are part of the normal intestinal microflora. Prebiotics are substances that serve as food for these beneficial bacteria and promote their growth, for example, galacto and fructooligosaccharides.
The intake of lacto-and bifidobacteria from the outside is very important for babies up to 1 year old, when a stable composition of the intestinal microflora is just being formed. That is why pro-and prebiotics enrich milk formulas and many other products from the category of baby food.
Additional intake of these components in the form of medicines is not required if the baby is healthy and receives dairy products, fruits and vegetables every day.
Pro-drugs and prebiotics are needed when the microflora balance is disturbed and it lacks beneficial bacteria. This fact necessarily requires medical confirmation.
And even if the microflora is changed, it is necessary not only to add the deficient bacteria, but also to eliminate the cause that led to this shortage. When prescribing probiotic agents, it is important to take into account the characteristics of each small patient: his age, the specifics of the disease, etc. For example, babies up to 6 months are better suited for drugs based on bifidobacteria – these are the “inhabitants” that prevail in the intestines of a child of this age.
Later in the composition of the microflora becomes more and more lactobacilli, and older children will bring more benefits drugs with these microorganisms.
The most famous of them are omega-3 (docosahexaenoic) and omega-6 (arachidonic) long-chain fatty acids. These substances affect the development of the child’s intelligence, vision, and immune system.
Both “omegas” must be in balance in the body; only in this case they effectively protect us from infections, allergies, cardiovascular diseases.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are urgently needed for weakened premature babies: nutrients are especially active in the child’s body in the third trimester of pregnancy, and if the baby is born prematurely, this does not happen. That is why mixtures for premature babies are surely enriched with these ingredients. In addition, it is very important that the child receive enough polyunsaturated fatty acids in the first year of life, because at this time they accumulate in the brain and the organ of vision.
At an older age, supplementation with these substances is recommended, for example, to frequently ill children and allergies.
“Artificial” babies draw omega-3 and omega-6 from mixtures, where they must be added, and babies – from mother’s milk. The menu of a young mother should have food rich in these substances: natural vegetable oils, fish, egg yolk.
If the baby has an allergy, the mother can get the necessary components from special products and preparations for pregnant and lactating women, and the baby from medical mixtures.
Pediatricians are familiar with situations when a child does not want, cannot or should not receive regular food. This happens in various diseases (for example, lesions of the gastrointestinal tract), weight gain, appetite disorders, as well as during the recovery phase after a long illness or operation.
In these cases, special dietary products come to the rescue – dry and liquid mixtures for nutritive support. The latter are very similar in taste to milkshakes. They are capable not only of supplementing the nutrition of the child, but even completely replacing the food, since they contain all the substances necessary for life: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, mineral substances.
Such products are very nutritious: 1 ml of the standard mixture has an energy value of 1 kcal, and high-energy – 1.5 kcal. This means that a 200-gram bottle of such a “cocktail” can replace a child with a full meal.
Since these products are pleasant to the taste and like children, some parents buy them for quick snacks. But a healthy child with a normal diet should not be given such drinks without a doctor’s recommendation – even if it seems to her mother that her treasure is undernourished.
Passion for nutrients will lead to an excess of protein and will create a risk of metabolic disorders and excess weight for the child. Such products are needed for “safety net” and support the body in exceptional cases: for example, during a period of stress, due to which the child lost his appetite, or intense physical exertion.