Does your child get the common cold or flu easily or his wounds take time to heal or he has a dry, patchy skin? If you wonder why then this is a perfect time you give this article a read.
Retinol, commonly known as Vitamin A is an important nutrient for your child’s health, especially in pre-schoolers. Nowadays, our government is taking a keen interest in the child’s nutrition and has launched various nutritional programs to encourage the same. One such program is “The National Programme for Prophylaxis against Blindness in Children”. This program is for children in the age group of 1-4 years. About 2, 50,000 to 5, 00,000 children across the globe suffer from Vitamin A deficiency and become blind each year.
Vitamin A is the first in the vitamin series and important for the overall development of your child. It plays an important role in healthy vision and development of the immune system of the child. Let’s discuss its role one by one:
- Our eyes have two types of cells, the rods and the cones. The rod cells help us see in the dark. Have you ever noticed; when you enter a dark room it takes time for your eyes to accommodate to the darkness? The credit goes to the rod cells. Vitamin A, also known as the ‘eye vitamin’ forms a pigment called rhodopsin that helps the rod cells to adjust to the darker environment. Deficiency of this vitamin leads to “Night Blindness” where a child is unable to see in the night or in a dim light.
- Vitamin A also triggers immune responses and helps the body fight against common infections like flu, common cold, measles, pneumonia, etc.
- Vitamin A is a regenerative vitamin as it helps to regenerate the skin cells after a wound. It helps the skin to grow back. It also prevents the dryness of the skin and makes it supple.
You are well aware of carrots, but did you know Vitamin A is also present in yellow/red coloured fruits and vegetables? Papaya, pumpkin, mangoes, sweet potato, peaches, apricots, spinach, butternut squash, melon, and broccoli are also rich in Vitamin A. Organ meats like liver and kidneys and egg yolks are the animal foods rich in Vitamin A.
However, you might not know Vitamin A occurs in two forms in nature: active Retinol, present in animal foods and inactive (precursor) Beta-Carotene that occurs in plant food.
Most of our Indian diet is vegetarian i.e. we derive our major nutrition from the plants. Vitamin A is in the inactive form (Beta-Carotene) in plants and has to be converted to its active form, Retinol before our body can use it. Thus, the amount of Vitamin A you eat is not equal to the amount you absorb for use in the body.
In simple words, if you feed your child a bowl of vegetables rich in Vitamin A, all of it will not get utilised.
Does that mean you increase the portion?
NO! Your child will only eat his/her daily amount. If you feed him in excess, it will lead to Vitamin A toxicity. That’s why there’s a recommended dietary intake (in mcg/micrograms) of Vitamin A in children:
- 1-3 years old: 300 mcg/day
- 4-8 years old: 400 mcg/day
- 9-13 years old: 600 mcg/day
Adequate supply, but not excess vitamin A, is also important for pregnant and breastfeeding women for the normal development of the baby. It provides nutrition to the child from the beginning as it cannot be compensated at a later age.
How to include adequate Vitamin A in your child’s diet without toxicity?
- Include vegetable soups between meals.
- If your child likes pakoras, cutlets or sandwiches, include the above-mentioned veggies while preparing the dough or use raw vegetables in the sandwiches.
- Prepare home-made sweets with veggies. E.g. carrot barfi, mango barfi etc.
- Make nutritious parathas with boiled vegetables mixed in the dough.
- Include fruit shakes in your child’s daily diet.
“A” is the beginning of the alphabets and also of your child’s nutrition. A correct dose from an early stage ensures proper development of the child. When the child is happy and healthy from the beginning, then only he can see a happy and healthy future. Hence, Vitamin A is the ingredient to your child’s healthy vision of the future.
If you like the post, share it with other parents on social media and let them feed their child with an adequate amount of Vitamin A.
Does your child fall ill too often? Ask our child experts about how to handle this situation.Consult Us