Children - fussy eaters, food allergies and intolerances

Fussy eaters and children with food allergies or intolerances provide a special challenge for many parents with these children at greater risk of developing nutritional deficiencies over time as their diet leaves out a number of important foods, robbing them of essential nutrients.

Problem foods for children
The food environment is something that parents can control, particularly when it comes to healthy eating and nutrition, and an occasional lapse in healthy eating will not harm your child. Children can be notoriously fussy eaters where they tend to refuse certain foods based on their taste, smell, texture, ease of chewing, colour and shape. They can like one food one moment, only to dislike it the next. Children with food allergies or intolerances to specific foods, including dairy, wheat and gluten, peanuts, eggs, nuts, soy or fish and shellfish, may find it difficult to obtain a wide variety of important nutrients. 

4 common childhood vitamin & mineral deficiencies
The amount and type of foods eaten determines your child’s daily nutrient intake. In Australia, children tend to be deficient in, or have low levels of:

  • Iron – healthy blood & energy
    Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide and is a public health concern. A dietary iron deficiency leads to reduced red blood cell production. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around your body and an iron deficiency leads to fatigue, shortness of breath and very pale skin. Children may be low or deficient in iron if they follow a vegetarian diet, experience a rapid growth spurt or have problems with digestive absorption. Iron is found in red meat, chicken, fish and legumes.
  • Zinc – healthy growth & development
    Zinc deficiency is also very common in children and may lead to poor immunity, wound healing and growth and development, and problems with appetite due to impaired taste and smell. Zinc is found in beef, lamb, whole grains and baked beans.
  • Vitamin B12 – healthy blood & nervous system
    Breastfed infants may not get enough vitamin B12 if their mothers have a vegetarian or vegan diet, or there are problems with absorption in the digestive tract, resulting in low levels of abnormally formed red blood cells or nervous system disturbances. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal proteins such as red meat, chicken, fish, cheese, milk and egg yolks.
  • Iodine – brain health & IQ
    Iodine deficiency may be serious and lead to stunted growth, diminished intelligence and retardation. It’s the world’s number one cause of preventable intellectual disability in children. Iodine is found in saltwater fish, seaweeds and some commercially prepared foods such as bread and salt which are fortified with iodine.

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