Happy Children's Day! Each year India celebrates Children's day on 14th November with much enthusiasm; the date also marks the birth anniversary of India's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who was very fond of children. India is often called the youngest nation in the country, with the maximum population under 25 years of age. India also houses a considerable population under 13-14 years of age who are just stepping into the most crucial stage of growth and development. It is imperative for those stepping into their adolescents to look after their diet and lifestyle, as the body undergoes maximum changes during this phase. A growth spurt usually begins around the age of 10 in girls, and 12 in boys, bringing about a considerable change in their height. The fat composition sees a drastic change too. In girls the proportion increases from 15% to around 20%. A balanced diet and an awareness of the nutrition needs of these adolescents, especially girls, can ensure they grow up to be healthy individuals, both physically and mentally.
Here are 5 Most Essential Nutrients Required By Girls Under 13 Years of Age
1. IronMacrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Practitioner, Shilpa Arora says, "Iron is critical at this age for rapid growth. Onset of menstruation calls for more iron intake in the daily diet. Beans, mustard, spinach greens, red meat, chicken and legumes are goods sources. Shalini Manglani, a Nutrition & Wellness consultant from Bangalore agrees and says, "Iron is the most vital nutrient for adolescent girls. Lack of iron leads to iron deficiency disorders like anemia. Iron is important for girls under 13. Dark green leafy vegetables are an easy source of iron and must be eaten at least 3 times a week. Spinach, fenugreek, mint, coriander can be cooked as curries or eaten as chutney or as a juice".
3. FolateAnother vital nutrient for girls as they step into their teens is folate. The required amount of folate is 400 micrograms per day. Shilpa says, "Folate needs to be included in higher quantities, as its requirements increase with puberty for synthesis of protein and DNA. A balanced approach in diet at this age is important for development." Folate also helps in cell growth and division and forms red blood cells. Amaranth, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits and okra are rich sources of folate.
4. CalciumAs you grow, there is rapid increase in bone mass and thus calcium needs are more than before. Calcium helps build strong bones and optimize bone mass. During puberty, the total amount of calcium deposited (as bone) per day is greater than at any other time in life, which makes it all the more essential to load up on calcium during these growing years. The RDA for calcium is 1,300 milligrams a day. Best sources of calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese, dahi. Veggies like broccoli, spinach and bok choy are also good sources of calcium.
5. MagnesiumMagnesium plays a key role in DNA synthesis, which enables cells to reproduce. And most importantly magnesium works with vitamin D and calcium to help build strong bones which is very important in the growing years. Spinach, pumpkin seeds, black beans and yogurt are rich sources of magnesium.
So girls, load up on this essential nutrients for a healthier adolescence and childhood! Happy Childrens' Day!
About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.