Kids Nutrition – Healthy Diet Guidelines

Dear mothers, knowing your Kids Nutrition intake levels with the right food and nutrients are paramount importance for their healthy growth and development.

There is no major difference between children and adults in the intake of types of nutrients in their daily diet. But the right amount of nutrients is what makes the big difference.

In the case of adults, they need nutrients only to maintain good health. But for kids, they need nutrients also for their healthy growth, development, and wellbeing.

Required nutrition for kids varies depending on their age group. So, know the right amount of nutrients needed for children at each age group.

What are the nutrients?

Nutrients are the vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrates and Dietary fats that you consume with your diet.

What are the main sources of nutrients?

Let us see the various sources of nutrients before we go to details on the right amount of nutrients intake for the different age group of children.

Protein

Protein is a building block nutrient for various parts of our body such as tissues, muscles, bones, skin, blood, and cartilage. The hair and nails use more protein for growth. Protein also a source of energy as carbohydrates on your body. Even cells in your body require protein to build and repair itself.

Kids Nutrition – Healthy Diet Guidelines - Protein
Sources of Protein

Lean Meat

Lean meat has high protein and low-fat content.  The examples of lean meat are skinless chicken, red meat, turkey and pork chops.

Sea Food

Seafood is highly rich in protein and of course very low in fat. Salmon fish is the best among all if you can afford it. It also has healthy fat along with omega 3 fatty acids which are really good for your heart.

Dairy Food

For children, dairy food is really good because in addition to the protein it also contains vitamins and minerals needed for their growth.

Milk, Cheese, low-fat yogurt, fortified soy beverages dairy food which has high protein in it.

Eggs

Eggs are rich in protein and cheaper in price. Children and adults can have an egg a day.

Beans

Beans are good because of its fiber nature. Just a half a cup of beans is equivalent to an ounce of broiled steak. So, plan to have beans in your children diet.

Soy from Soybeans

Protein derived from the soybean is good for health.  Intake of fat-free soy can significantly the lower the cholesterol in your blood. Just 50 grams of soy protein does well for daily intake.

Other quick sources of protein

You can opt for energy bars or cereal bar to get protein fast.  Choose cereal/energy bars that contain a minimum of six grams of protein. More is when energy/cereal bars are in low sugar and fat.

Vitamins and Essential Minerals

The vitamins and minerals play numerous roles in our body. They support to make stronger bones, boosting immune systems, healing wounds, converting food into energy, and repairing cells.

Vitamins and minerals also function as chemical messengers between organs to organs and brain to deliver instructions.

Kids Nutrition – Healthy Diet Guidelines - Vitamins and Minerals
Kids and Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins

There are two types of vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins.

Water-soluble vitamins

Our body does not store water-soluble vitamins. It is only through the intake of the right food, we can meet our daily need for water-soluble vitamins.

  • Vitamin-B1 – soymilk, ham, acorn squash, watermelon
  • Vitamin-B2 – yogurt, milk, whole, cheese, enriched grains, and cereals
  • Vitamin-B3 – fish, poultry, meat, mushrooms, potatoes, and fortified whole grains
  • Vitamin-B5 – broccoli, mushrooms, whole grains, avocados, and chicken
  • Vitamin-B6 – fish, meat, legumes, poultry, soy products, tofu, and bananas
  • Vitamin-B7 – fish, eggs, soybeans and whole grains
  • Vitamin-B9 – cereals, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, legumes, orange juice, and fortified grains
  • Vitamin-B12 – milk, cheese, fish, poultry, cereals, Meat, and fortified soymilk
  • Vitamin-C – Citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, spinach, Brussels, tomatoes, and sprouts
Fat-soluble vitamins

Through the digestion out body stores, the fat-soluble vitamins for later use in our liver and fat tissues.

  • Vitamin-A: carrots, fish, liver, eggs, beef, shrimp, fortified milk, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, mangoes, and spinach
  • Vitamin-D: fatty fish, fortified milk and cereals
  • Vitamin-E: leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • Vitamin-K: eggs, milk, spinach, Cabbage, kale, and broccoli

Essential Minerals

The minerals needed for our body are essential minerals. There are two types of essential minerals that are macrominerals and microminerals.

Macrominerals
  • Sodium is important for proper functions of nerve transmission, muscle contraction and fluid balance in our body. The main source of sodium is through our salt intake with food.
  • Chloride is required to balance the stomach acid and fluid in our system. Available in salt, vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, olives, celery, seaweed, and rye.
  • Potassium is required for better nerve transmission, muscle contraction and fluid balance in our body. Available in milk, meat, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Calcium is required to have strong bones and teeth. Also supports proper nerve functions, maintaining blood pressure, blood clotting and overall immune health.
  • Phosphorus just like calcium is required for the bones and teeth. Apart from this maintains acid balance in the stomach. Available in fish, meat, eggs, poultry, and processed food.
  • Magnesium is needed for muscle contraction, nerves and for the immune system.

Sulfur is present in protein molecules. Available in proteins of fish, eggs, milk, meats, poultry, nuts, and legumes.

Microminerals (Trace minerals)
  • Iron is important for hemoglobin molecule the red blood cells. These red cells carry oxygen across our body. Also important for metabolism.
  • Zinc is required for making protein and is a part of enzymes. Zinc supports wound healing, sperm production, the immune system, and sexual maturation. Available in fish, poultry, meats, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Iodine is important for thyroid hormone functions that regulate development, growth, and metabolism. Available in dairy products, fish, seafood, iodized salt.
    Selenium is an antioxidant. Found in seafood, meats, and grain.
  • Copper is required for iron metabolism and is a part of several enzymes. Available in nuts, seeds, whole grains, drinking water, organ meats, and legumes.
  • Manganese is needed for the enzymes. Present in plant foods
  • Fluoride is required to support insulin functions to regulate the sugar levels in the blood.
  • Molybdenum is needed for certain enzymes. Available in green vegetables, milk, and liver.

Apart from the above our system needs a small number of micro-minerals such as vanadium, silicon, nickel, and cobalt.

Carbohydrates

There are good and bad carbohydrates or carbs. At the same time any good carbohydrates in excess also bad for the health. Excess carbohydrates cause obesity.

Kids Nutrition – Healthy Diet Guidelines - Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates for Kids

The three main carbohydrates

Sugar – This is the simplest form of carbohydrate. This available in fruits, milk, vegetables, and other milk products.  Sugar has three types of carbohydrates.

  • Sucrose is from table sugar
  • Lactose is from milk sugar and
  • Fructose is from fruits

Starch – This is a complex carbohydrate made from multiple sugar units.  Starch foods are found in grains, peas, cooked dry beans and in vegetables.

Fiber – This also a complex carbohydrate like starch. Found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, peas and in cooked dry beans

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body.  The digestion process breaks the sugar and starch into a simpler form.  And then absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose (blood sugar).

Then the insulin in the blood pushes the glucose into the body cells as energy based on the need.   The muscles and certain other cells stores the remaining glucose.    The excess glucose convert to fat.

Dietary Fat

Dietary fats are important for energy. It also to help cells growth in our body. Fat protects our organs, keeps our body warm with the right temperature.

Kids Nutrition – Healthy Diet Guidelines - Dietary Fat
Dietary Fat for Kids

Types of Dietary Fat

Saturated Fats are molecules saturated with hydrogen molecules. This fat is in solid form in normal room temperature. Higher intake of saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels in the blood. Avoid taking of saturated fat food in your daily diet.

Saturated Fat foods are pork, fatty beef, poultry with skin, lamb, lard and cream, cheese and butter.

Trans Fats are unsaturated fatty acids.  The industries produce cooking oil through the hydrogenation process from vegetables. High intake of trans fat can lead to heart complications.

Trans fats foods are cooking oil, margarine, snacks, fast good, and fried foods

Monounsaturated Fat is a fat simple, provide nutrients to cells and good for the overall health. Monounsaturated fat reduces the risk of heart decease by controlling the bad cholesterol levels in the blood. It also contains vitamin E, the antioxidant which is good for the body.

Monounsaturated fat foods are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, seeds, sunflower oil, and sesame oil.

Polyunsaturated Fat is similar to monounsaturated fat and good for health. It reduces the bad cholesterol levels in the blood and thus reduces the risk of having heart diseases.

Polyunsaturated fat foods are corn oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil.

Kids Nutrition Guide

We discussed the nutrients and sources in detail above. Now we can see how to balance the right food for different age groups of children for the maximum benefits.

  • We encourage children to eat fruits as much as they like.  Eat fruits in forms of fresh, dried, frozen, canned or fresh juice with no added or low added sugar levels.
  • Serve children with a verity of vegetable in their meals.
  • Make sure the intake of whole grains foods, such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, quinoa, popcorn, brown rice, and wild rice. Reduce the intake of refined grain foods such as pasta, rice, and white bread.
  • For growing children, dairy food is really good are low in fat or fat-free.
  • Try and avoid children taking saturated fat, trans fat and added sugar in their diets.

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline for Non-Vegetarians

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (non-vegetarians):  Children from ages 2 to 3

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary10001000
Moderately1000 to 14001000 to 1200
Active1000 to 14001000 to 1400
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables1 cup to 1.5 cup1 cup to 1.5 cup
Fruits1 cup to 1.5 cup1 cup to 1.5 cup
Grains3 Oz to 5 Oz3 Oz to 5 Oz
Dairy2 cups to 2.5 cups2 cups to 2.5 cups
Protein2 Oz to 4 Oz2 Oz to 4 Oz
Oils2 Oz to 4 Oz2 Oz to 4 Oz

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (non-vegetarians):  Children from ages 4 to 8

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary1200 to 14001200 to 1400
Moderately1400 to 16001400 to 1600
Active1400 to 20001400 to 1800
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables1 cup to 2.5 cups1.5 cup to 2.5 cups
Fruits1 cup to 2 cups1 cup to 1.5 cups
Grains4 Oz to 6 Oz4 Oz to 6 Oz
Dairy2.5 cups to 3 cups2.5 cups to 3 cups
Protein3 Oz to 5.5 Oz3 Oz to 5 Oz
Oils17 g to 27 g17 g to 24 g

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (non-vegetarians):  Children from ages 9 to 13

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary1600 to 20001400 to 1600
Moderately1800 to 22001600 to 2000
Active2000 to 26001800 to 2200
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables2 cups to 3.5 cups1.5 cup to 3 cups
Fruits1.5 cups to 2 cups1.5 cup to 2 cups
Grains5 Oz to 9 Oz5 Oz to 7 Oz
Dairy3 cups2.5 cups to 3 cups
Protein5 Oz to 6.5 Oz4 Oz to 6 Oz
Oils22 g to 34 g17 g to 29 g

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (non-vegetarians):  Children from ages 14 to 18

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary2000 to 24001800
Moderately2400 to 28002000
Active2800 to 32002400
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables2.5 cups to 4 cups2.5 cup to 3 cups
Fruits2 cups to 2.5 cups1.5 cups to 2 cups
Grains6 Oz to 10 Oz6 Oz to 8 Oz
Dairy3 cups3 cups
Protein5.5 Oz to 7 Oz5 Oz to 6.5 Oz
Oils27 g to 51 g24 g to 31 g

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline for Vegetarians

Vegetarian food includes Soya products such as tofu and other processed soy products, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains needed at an increased quantity compare to non-vegetarian nutrient requirements. This is because the sources of food such as meat, poultry, and seafood are excluded in vegetarian food.  However, the guidelines given below includes intake of eggs and dairy products.

Vegetable group – Dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, Legumes (beans & peas), starchy vegetables, other vegetables.
Protein Food – Eggs, legumes (beans & peas), soy products, nuts, and seeds.

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (vegetarians):  Children from ages 2 to 3

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary10001000
Moderately1000 to 14001000 to 1200
Active1000 to 14001000 to 1400
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables1 cup to 1.5 cups1 cup to 1.5 cups
Fruits1 cup to 1.5 cups1 cup to 1.5 cups
Grains3 Oz to 5 Oz3 Oz to 5 Oz
Dairy2 cups to 2.5 cups2 cups to 2.5 cups
Protein1 Oz to 2 Oz1 Oz to 2 Oz
Oils15 g to 17 g15 g to 17 g

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (vegetarians):  Children from ages 4 to 8

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary1200 to 14001200 to 1400
Moderately1400 to 16001400 to 1600
Active1600 to 20001400 to 1800
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables1.5 cups to 2.5 cups1.5 cups to 2.5 cups
Fruits1 cup to 2 cups1 cup to 1.5 cups
Grains4 Oz to 6.5 Oz4 Oz to 6.5 Oz
Dairy2.5 cups to 3 cups2.5 cups to 3 cups
Protein1.5 Oz to 3.5 Oz1.5 Oz to 3 Oz
Oils17 g to 27 g17 g to 24 g

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (vegetarians):  Children from ages 9 to 13

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary1600 to 20001400 to 1600
Moderately1800 to 22001600 to 2000
Active2000 to 26001800 to 2200
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables2 cups to 3.5 cups1.5 cups to 3 cups
Fruits1.5 cup to 2 cups1.5 cup to 2 cups
Grains5.5 Oz to 9.5 Oz5 Oz to 7.5 Oz
Dairy3 cups2.5 cups to 3 cups
Protein2.5 Oz to 4.5 Oz2 Oz to 3.5 Oz
Oils22 g to 34 g17 g to 29 g

Kids nutrition daily diet guideline (vegetarians):  Children from ages 14 to 18

Estimated CalorieMaleFemale
Sedentary2000 to 24001800
Moderately2400 to 28002000
Active2800 to 32002400
Food GroupMaleFemale
Vegetables2.5 cups to 4 cups2.5 cups to 3 cups
Fruits2 cup to 2.5 cups1.5 cup to 2 cups
Grains6.5 Oz to 10.5 Oz6.5 Oz to 8.5 Oz
Dairy3 cups3 cups
Protein3.5 Oz to 6 Oz3 Oz to 4 Oz
Oils27 g to 51 g24 g to 31 g

Information on Kids Nutrition healthy diet guideline is sourced from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the United States.

Reviewed by noble home remedies staff.

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