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The Power of Kids Good Stuff

How diet and supplementation support hair regrowth in autoimmune hair-loss.


A recent paper has been published in the Cureus Journal of Medicine in which an eight-year-old patient achieved remission of Alopecia areata (AA) through the use of diet and supplementation including Nuzest’s Kids Good Stuff in the regimen. 

What is Alopecia areata (AA)?

AA is a common autoimmune condition targeting the hair follicles causing ‘spot baldness’ (or more extensive) hair loss in individuals. Autoimmune diseases are conditions that trigger the immune system to attack part of your own body; in the case of AA, the hair follicles are targeted, contributing to an individual’s presentation of hair loss. White blood cells attack healthy hair follicle cells, causing them to shrink and fall out. This is often present on the scalp in small patches, however, hair loss can occur over other parts of the body. 

Hair loss is a physical, external sign which may indicate that something is going on within the body. Nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders and pharmaceutical drugs are just a few factors that may contribute to hair loss. 

The Case Study & Case Presentation

A case study by Cliff J. Harvey published in November 2020 reports the treatment of AA through the use of combined diet and supplementation.[1] The patient was an eight-year-old male who presented with AA.

Advice was provided to the patient’s parents to increase zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D-rich foods, to avoid gluten and dairy where possible, and to focus on a whole foods diet reducing intake of processed ‘packaged’ foods.[1]

The supplementation regimen consisted of our Kids Good Stuff multi-nutrient powder which is rich in vitamins A, D3, zinc and secondary antioxidant nutrients; paired with a zinc sulfate supplement and a fish oil with added vitamin D. Lifestyle advice was also given to spend 5-10 min outside daily. 

Key micronutrients including vitamin D, zinc and vitamin A were supplemented through a daily dose of Kids Good Stuff. Per 15g serve the following amount of key micronutrients were provided: 

  • Vitamin A – 400μg RE
  • Zinc – 6mg
  • Vitamin D3 – 10μg

The Results

After following the prescribed dietary and supplement regimen for two months, the patient’s hair was seen to grow back. After five months, it was reported the patient achieved complete remission, with evidence that the patient’s hair had completely recovered. Additional research suggests there is a relationship between the incidence and severity of AA and several micronutrients, including vitamin D, zinc and vitamin A.[2]

Read the full case report here.

The Benefits of Kids Good Stuff

Kids Good Stuff is an all-in-one nutritional support formula providing the right balance of vitamins and minerals to fill nutritional gaps in a child’s diet. It’s true that even as adults, many of us don’t get all the essential micronutrients that we need to thrive from diet alone and without vital nutrients we can’t perform and feel out best – this rings true for kids too! 

Insufficient intakes of nutrients increase rapidly from infancy. For example, from the age of 2-4 to 14-18, around 1/3 of males and over ¼ females don’t consume sufficient vitamin A and for boys and men, zinc insufficiency consistently rises from childhood to over 2/3 of the male population by adulthood.[3] The major reason being, we are not getting everything we need from diet alone as diets high in refined and processed foods are favoured. 

Kids Good Stuff is not a substitute for healthy, balanced meals, but is a daily supplementation to help support the health and growth of our kids. The nutrient rich formula includes microalgae, mushrooms, vegetables and high polyphenol fruit and berry extracts which provides an array of phytonutrients, trace and ultra-trace minerals necessary for proper absorption and utilisation of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in kids. Each ingredient works together in a range of different functions, supporting all 11 systems of the body, including the integumentary system (hair, skin and nails). 

Kids Good Stuff was designed specifically with children’s needs in mind. It’s packed full of vitamins, minerals and other great stuff to set kids up for a good day and to support and nourish their growing bodies.


References:

[1] https://www.cureus.com/articles/42894-combined-diet-and-supplementation-therapy-resolves-alopecia-areata-in-a-paediatric-patient-a-case-study

[2]ABS. Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results‐Foods and Nutrients, 2011‐12. Australian Bureau of Statistics Canberra; 2014.  

[3]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316992207_The_Role_of_Micronutrients_in_Alopecia_Areata_A_Review

Alex Hamlin

Kids Good Stuff – a Parent’s Best Friend

By Nicola Miethke, Clinical Naturopath and Nutritionist  Despite our best efforts as parents to give our children a wholesome, balanced diet filled with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, quality protein and healthy fats, it’s never quite that simple! Perhaps your child is a picky eater and you’re worried that their diet of sausages and


By Nicola Miethke, Clinical Naturopath and Nutritionist 

Despite our best efforts as parents to give our children a wholesome, balanced diet filled with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, quality protein and healthy fats, it’s never quite that simple! Perhaps your child is a picky eater and you’re worried that their diet of sausages and potato every night just isn’t cutting it. Maybe their schedule is so busy or they are so active that it’s hard for them to find the time to eat enough whilst on the go. Or maybe your child has a sensory processing disorder or food allergy/intolerance which limits the variety of foods they are able or willing to eat. Whatever it is, most of children won’t eat everything we give them.

So how we can be sure that our children are getting everything they need for healthy growth and development whilst still having the energy to just be kids?

First and foremost, the priority is continuing your best efforts to help your child get the nutrients they need from a predominantly wholefood, unprocessed diet. But, with various issues affecting our children’s food intake (as mentioned above) and the following statistics to prove it, there are a lot of gaps that need to be filled:

  • 95% of children eat insufficient serves of vegetables
  • 40% of children eat insufficient serves of fruit
  • 40% of our children’s energy intake is from discretionary foods
  • On average, only boys aged 4-11 and girls aged 9-11 meet the recommended daily intake for grains
  • Almost all children aged 4-18 do not meet the recommended serves of dairy products, meat and alternatives1,2,3

In short, almost all children are missing the mark in at least three of the five primary food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and alternatives, dairy and alternatives) making it very difficult for them to get all the essential vitamins and minerals they need to thrive. “Thrive” being the key word here. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamins and minerals set out by government guidelines are purely a baseline for survival. They do not take into consideration individual needs, activity levels or requirements for optimal wellbeing.

It doesn’t help that we are busier and more time poor than ever, and packaged convenience foods are so readily available. Unfortunately, it’s these foods (biscuits, crackers, muffins, potato and corn chips, snack bars) that children tend to love because they are the highest in sugar, salt and saturated fats, providing them with little other than high levels of kilojoules or what we call “empty calories”. They’re great at keeping them quiet but far from nourishing.

Some of the most common nutritional deficiencies we see in children are vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron and zinc.4 Approximately 85% of girls aged 12-18 have inadequate calcium intake, 70% have inadequate magnesium levels and 40% are low in iron.2,5  Whilst 60% of boys aged 12-18 have inadequate magnesium levels and 70% don’t get enough calcium.5 It’s also very common for children, particularly teenagers, to show signs of low levels of B group vitamins (such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability) when the pressures of school life start to create additional stress. The reason why we see these deficiencies creep up as our children get older is because the period between the age of 4 and 14 is characterised by rapid growth, and cognitive and emotional development. Therefore, giving them a strong nutritional foundation during these years is the best strategy for avoiding problems later on.

Is there is an easy solution?

Thank goodness, YES! Nuzest’s Kids Good Stuff (KGS) is the nutritional insurance for our kids that we have all been looking for to put our minds at ease. Adding it to your child’s normal daily diet it will not only fill the gaps to help them reach their RDIs, it will help to ensure they are going above and beyond these recommendations for optimal health, growth and development.  

For example, every serve of KGS contains 200% of the RDI for Vitamin D for children aged 4-14, 261% of Vitamin C, 278% of Vitamin B12, 83% of zinc, 63% of iodine and 21% of calcium. Not to mention a host of other essential vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, herbs, protein and probiotics to support all 11 body systems through this time of rapid growth.

Is Kids Good Stuff easy to take?

One of the things that kids love the most about Kids Good Stuff is that it tastes too good to be healthy. So good that even the fussiest of eaters will be happy to take it. With 8g of the highest quality pea protein per serve, Kids Good Stuff makes the perfect addition to breakfast or is a healthy and satisfying snack all on its own. Alternatively, it can be blended with your children’s favourite smoothie ingredients or added to raw snacks and treats for a nutrient boost.

As a parent, knowing that just one scoop a day can be the difference between your child not getting the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly and your child thriving, it’s an absolute must! It will make you feel confident that you are giving our children the best start in life.  

Why is it better than a regular multivitamin?

If you ask me, Kids Good Stuff is a clear winner over any multivitamin capsule or gummy. Not only do children associate gummies with candy, deeming all varieties of chewy confectionary to be “healthy” to them, but it’s impossible to get all the nutritional support children need in just one small chew or capsule. Because Kids Good Stuff comes in a concentrated powder form with no fillers, it’s able to deliver over 50 ingredients in quantities that will actually have a beneficial effect.

Even more importantly than the quantity though is the quality of the ingredients. And Nuzest have absolutely assured this. Every vitamin, mineral, herb and probiotic in Kids Good Stuff has been selected based on maximum bioavailability, meaning that the body can recognise and absorb every ingredient and none of it goes to waste.

In summary, if you are looking for nutritional insurance to give you peace of mind that your child is getting all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive then there is nothing like Kids Good Stuff. With everything they need for healthy development, strong immunity, good digestion and gut support, healthy bones and long-lasting energy without any of the bad stuff, it’s the best way to keep them happy and healthy from the inside out.

Please note that vitamin and mineral supplements can interact with medications. If your child has been prescribed medication by a GP or specialist, it’s important to consult them before taking a nutritional supplement.

References:

AIHW (2018). Australia’s Health 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2010 from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/indicators-of-australias-health/fruit-and-vegetable-intake

AIHW (2018). Nutrition Across the Life Stages. Retrieved 13 October 2020 fromhttps://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/fc5ad42e-08f5-4f9a-9ca4-723cacaa510d/aihw-phe-227.pdf.aspx?inline=true

AIHW (2019). Poor Diet in Children. Retrieved 13 October 2020 https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/food-nutrition/poor-diet/contents/poor-diet-in-children

Raising Children Network (2020). Vitamins and Minerals. Retrieved 12 October 2020 from https://raisingchildren.net.au/teens/healthy-lifestyle/nutrients/vitamins-minerals#vitamin-and-mineral-deficiencies-nav-title

ABS (2015). Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes. Retrieved 12 October 2020 from https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-usual-nutrient-intakes/latest-release

Better Nutrition for Better Behaviour

The most important meal of the day That’s right, breakfast! If you’ve ever run out of the door without breakfast on a workday, you’re probably familiar with the distraction that hunger can cause. This is no different in children – attention and memory are improved in children that have breakfast compared to those who don’t,


The most important meal of the day

That’s right, breakfast! If you’ve ever run out of the door without breakfast on a workday, you’re probably familiar with the distraction that hunger can cause. This is no different in children – attention and memory are improved in children that have breakfast compared to those who don’t, and some types of breakfast seem to improve attention more than others. For example, children who ate low GI (or glycaemic index – a measure of how quickly your blood sugar rises after a meal) breakfasts saw greater improvement in attention than those who had high GI breakfasts.1 Common high GI breakfast foods are white bread, high-sugar cereal and baked goods like muffins and pastries, whereas low GI options include oatmeal, eggs and wholemeal toast.

Examples of how to turn a high GI breakfast into a low GI one below:

Of course, it’s a little reductive to say that it’s only breakfast that is important when thinking about attention and behaviour in children. Making sure children eat regularly through the day and focussing on low GI foods ensures they have sustainable energy to focus and helps to reduce the poor behaviour that often arises from hunger.

Specific nutrients to help

As well as ensuring that children eat regularly, it can be helpful to ensure adequate intake of a few key nutrients.

  • Magnesium, in concert with Calcium, helps calm the nervous system by regulating nerve firing and reducing over-excitation of the nervous system. For diets low in magnesium, supplementation might help to reduce anxiety. Check out this anxiety supplements which might help you a lot.
  • B Vitamins support all areas of health and mood; in particular B6 supplementation (with magnesium) has demonstrated improvements in symptoms of hyperactivity and aggressiveness in children.3
  • Iron deficiency in children has several symptoms, one of which is poor behaviour, and treatment with supplemental iron can reverse the behavioural symptoms.4 There’s no harm in increasing iron-rich foods in the diet (for example spinach, beans, lentils, tofu and red meat) as our bodies are very good at regulating iron from food sources; however you should only ever give children iron supplements if your doctor has identified an iron deficiency.
  • Zinc insufficiency is associated with a number of behaviour problems including anxiety/depression, withdrawal, emotional reactivity, attention problems and aggressive behaviour.5 Including more beans and lentils, seeds like hemp or pumpkin, nuts like cashews or almonds and dark chocolate can give your kids a boost of zinc in their diets.
  • Omega-3s have been found to improve problems like inattention, hyperactivity and oppositional behaviour in children, both with and without a diagnosis of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).6 [Hibbeln] As well as oily fish, omega-3s can be found in seaweed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax, walnuts and beans.
  • Protein keeps them fuller for longer, helping to avoid afternoon ‘hanger’ tantrums!

To help achieve the levels of nutrients kids needs to thrive, try adding a Kids Good Stuff multivitamin smoothie to their daily routine. It contains over 50 ingredients including magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, naturally occurring iron, zinc and protein.

Things to avoid

Experiment with removing artificial colours, flavour enhancers and preservatives to see if this makes a difference in your child’s behaviour (some children are more sensitive than others); these include:

This can be an overwhelming task and it’s best to work with a professional (like a dietician, nutritionist or naturopath) when making restrictions to a child’s diet.

Allergies and intolerances

Allergies and intolerances don’t always show up as the classic symptoms of rash, itchy throat, bloating or diarrhoea. Behavioural problems can also be a sign of an undiagnosed allergy or intolerance. Speak to your doctor if you suspect this and they can arrange an allergy test for you.


References

  1. Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Champ CL, et al. The effects of breakfast and breakfast composition on cognition in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Adv Nutr 2016;7(3):590S-612S.
  2. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. 
  3. Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, Pradal-Prat D, Rapin J, Bali JP. Improvement of neurobehavioral dis-orders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Magnes Res. 2006;19(1):46-52.
  4. Mahajan G, Sikka M, Rusia U, et al. Iron profile in children with behavioural disorders: A prospective study in a tertiary care hospital in North India. Indian J Hematol Blood Tranfus 2011;27(2):75-80.
  5. Liu J, Hanlon A, Ma C, et al. Low blood zinc, iron, and other sociodemographic factors associated with behaviour problems in preschoolers. Nutr 2014;6:530-545.
  6. Hibbeln JR, Gow RV. Omega-3 fatty acid and nutrient deficits in adverse neurodevelopment and childhood behaviours. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 2014;23(3):555-590.
  1. Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Champ CL, et al. The effects of breakfast and breakfast composition on cognition in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Adv Nutr 2016;7(3):590S-612S.
  2. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. 
  3. Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, Pradal-Prat D, Rapin J, Bali JP. Improvement of neurobehavioral dis-orders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Magnes Res. 2006;19(1):46-52.
  4. Mahajan G, Sikka M, Rusia U, et al. Iron profile in children with behavioural disorders: A prospective study in a tertiary care hospital in North India. Indian J Hematol Blood Tranfus 2011;27(2):75-80.
  5. Liu J, Hanlon A, Ma C, et al. Low blood zinc, iron, and other sociodemographic factors associated with behaviour problems in preschoolers. Nutr 2014;6:530-545.
  6. Hibbeln JR, Gow RV. Omega-3 fatty acid and nutrient deficits in adverse neurodevelopment and childhood behaviours. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 2014;23(3):555-590.

Maximising mood in your minis

In the most recent surveys looking at mental health in Australia, almost 1 in 7 children and adults aged 4-17 had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder; nearly half (45%) of adults had been.1 [aihw] As parents, we want to do everything we can to protect our children and try to prevent these illnesses


In the most recent surveys looking at mental health in Australia, almost 1 in 7 children and adults aged 4-17 had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder; nearly half (45%) of adults had been.1 [aihw] As parents, we want to do everything we can to protect our children and try to prevent these illnesses manifesting. Of course, this advice isn’t a cure-all. Sometimes, no matter what we’ve tried, our children will end up with a diagnosis of this kind, but by focussing on good nutrition and lifestyle modifications, we can help to reduce the risk.

Good food for good mood

Like most health states, people of all ages who have, or are at risk for, mental health disorders should aim for a varied diet including a range of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meat or beans and tofu, nuts and seeds and a few treats. Try to keep sugary, fatty treats as a ‘sometimes’ food – there is some evidence suggesting that diets high in both saturated fat and sugar can affect a substance made in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF); BDNF is often low in people with depression, and when levels increase symptoms of depression can improve.2 [O’Neil] There are a few nutrients we can make extra effort to include which have been shown to be protective against mental health disorders:

  • Omega-3 fats: there are a number of ways that these fats might help to protect against depression. It might be that they protect the brain and its processes, or perhaps that they reduce inflammation (which is commonly seen in people with depression). [Grosso] Science isn’t sure yet, but we do recommend including them in the diet. Oily fish is an excellent source of omega-3s, but seeds like flax and chia, walnuts and soybeans are great vegan sources of omega-3s.
  • Tryptophan: a necessary component of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ (low levels of this hormone contribute to both anxiety and depression), tryptophan cannot be made in the body and must be present in adequate amounts in the diet to ensure enough serotonin can be made. Higher intake of tryptophan has been shown to lead to lower rates of depression, irritability and anxiety.3 [Lindseth] Tryptophan is an amino acid – the building blocks of protein – so is usually found in high protein foods like poultry, eggs, dairy, peanuts and pumpkin and sesame seeds. If you prefer a protein powder or shake, look for one that is a ‘complete protein’ like Nuzest’s Clean Lean Protein, this means all the amino acids (and therefore tryptophan) are present.
  • Pre and Probiotics: there is a reason our stomachs are sometimes called our “little brain”. We’ve long known that our brain controls our gut, but we now know that the gut can influence the brain, too. Remember serotonin that we talked about above? About 95% of serotonin is made in the gut,5 [banskota] so it’s important to keep our guts healthy. Taking pre and probiotics can improve the microbiota (the mix of bacteria living in our stomach and intestines), and can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.6 [liang].

Along with a variety of fruits and vegetables and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, Nuzest’s Kids Good Stuff contains 3billion CFU probiotics plus prebiotics from flaxseed, psyllium husk and apple pectin to help protect all aspects of children’s health.

Other lifestyle tips

It’s usually best to approach any illness with a holistic approach – that means not just focussing on symptoms but looking at the body and mind as a whole, and trying more than one treatment. So while you make small tweaks to the diet, you could also encourage some of the following:

  • Meditation and mindfulness can be a great practice for those with anxiety, depression and stress.
  • Sleep can be disturbed in those with poor mental health, aim for good sleep hygiene .
  • Exercise releases endorphins which can boost mood, even a short walk can be beneficial!
  • Socialising can be hard when suffering with depression or anxiety; encourage your children not to isolate themselves and continue seeing friends.

Medical help

This advice is intended to help your children boost their mood and reduce their risk of developing more serious mental health problems like depression and anxiety. If you suspect your child has a problem beyond low mood, it’s best to talk to your GP. Medication shouldn’t be feared! Work with your child’s doctor to find the best medication, if it’s necessary; your GP can also refer your child to a suitable therapist if needed.


References

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Mental health services in Australia. Prevalence, impact and burden. 2020. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
  2. O’Neil A, Quirk SE, Housden S, et al. Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Am J Public Health 2014;104(10):e31-e42.
  3. Grosso G, Galvano F, Marventano S, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: Scientific evidence and biological mechanisms. Oxid Med Cell Longev 2014;2014:313570.
  4. Lindseth G, Helland B, Caspers J.  The effects of dietary tryptophan on affective disorders. Arch Psychiatr Nurs 2015;29(2):102-107.
  5. Banskota S, Ghia JE, Khan WI. Serotonin in the gut: Blessing or a curse. Biochimie 2019;161:56-64.
  6. Liang S, Wu X, Jin F. Gut-brain psychology: Rethinking psychology from the microbiota-gut-brain-axis. Front Integr Neurosci 2018;12:33.

Nutrition for girls: from birth to adulthood

Our nutritional needs vary according to which stage of life we are in; from birth to adulthood, changes in growth and development, puberty, increasing activity, learning and some health conditions can all raise the requirement for certain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat). If your child has a health condition affecting


Our nutritional needs vary according to which stage of life we are in; from birth to adulthood, changes in growth and development, puberty, increasing activity, learning and some health conditions can all raise the requirement for certain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat). If your child has a health condition affecting their nutritional needs, her paediatrician can refer you to a registered dietitian for more specific advice.

0-6 months

At this age, baby girls should be getting all the nutrients they need from breastmilk and/or formula. Animal and plant milks are not a suitable source of nutrition for infants; if a cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is suspected in a formula-fed child, soy or hydrolysed formulas are available.

Though some doctors and paediatricians may advise that you can begin solid foods between four and six months, most dietitians agree that you should wait until at least six months, unless there is a medical need. The signs that your baby is ready to start solids include:

  • She can sit unsupported
  • She shows an interest in the food you eat
  • She has lost the tongue-thrust reflex

Ensure you have read about safe feeding practices and know the difference between gagging and choking to give you more confidence when starting to feed your baby solid foods.

6 months – 3 years

This is a period of rapid growth and development when requirements for both micronutrients and macronutrients are higher, on a per kilogram of bodyweight basis, than at any other time of life.1 Compared to adults, children up to 3 need more total energy (i.e. kilojoules ), protein and unsaturated fat per kilogram of bodyweight; they also have a higher need for water due to sweating less, and this need is increased further in times of fever, diarrhoea or extreme heat.2 At 6 months, babies have an increased need for iron which is often not adequately met by formula or breastmilk – serve an iron rich food (strips of meat, mashed beans and lentils or seeds like chia and hemp) with each meal to ensure she has plenty of opportunities to top up on her iron intake.

Good sources of protein and unsaturated fat for babies and toddlers include eggs (for young babies, serve scrambled or boiled and mashed on strips of toast, toddlers often find it fun to dip toast strips into a soft boiled egg), chia seeds (encourage your toddler to get involved by sprinkling the seeds on her food by herself!), oily fish like salmon and homemade hummus and pesto (increase omega-3 fats in hummus and pesto by replacing some of the olive oil with flaxseed or walnut oil).

Offering a varied diet, encouraging your children to eat intuitively and not forcing them to eat when they’re full or restricting food when you think they’ve eaten too much should ensure that children meet their nutritional needs and set them up for a healthy relationship to food in later life, a particular concern in girls for whom eating disorders and dieting are a continuing problem.

3 years – puberty

This is the period of slower growth between the high growth periods of infancy/toddlerhood and puberty. For girls, puberty usually starts between about 9 and 11 years, but can happen earlier or later – this is just an average. Genetics, race and diet can all affect the timing of puberty in girls, with diets high in processed, high-fat (predominately trans and saturated fats) foods associated with an earlier onset of puberty; conversely, underfeeding and malnutrition are associated with delayed onset of puberty.2

Continuing to feed a balanced and varied diet will support girls’ growth and development. Remember that a balanced diet does not mean that no processed foods or treats should be allowed! Moderation is key; to set our children up with the tools that will enable them to live a life free of restrictive food rules, modelling balance in food choices is a crucial step. Picky eating, common in toddlerhood, should begin to ease with children more open to trying new foods; for those in whom pickiness continues, a nutritional shake might be an appropriate addition to the diet to fill any gaps.

Puberty and adolescence

This is the second of the high growth periods of childhood, and as such nutritional needs are increased to meet the demands of this growth spurt. It is commonly understood that boys need to eat more during puberty and adolescence – the same is true of girls. While boys often need more total energy than girls, this is due only to a tendency for larger frames and higher muscle mass; the energy needed per pound of body weight is the same for boys and girls. During this time, girls should be strongly encouraged to eat to fullness, without restricting kilojoules or food groups, to ensure adequate nutrition to support growth. This is particularly important for girls who are athletic, participate in organised sports or practice dance or gymnastics, for whom nutritional needs are higher and there is often greater pressure to shrink to or maintain a smaller size.

Though protein needs are higher during puberty, the body has an increased efficiency for utilisation of dietary protein,2 so while you should continue  to ensure that your child is offered protein as part of meals and snacks regularly via meat, eggs, tofu, beans and lentils, fish or a protein shake (these are great for a quick snack after sports!), it’s not necessary to overthink it. Protein deficiency is rare in a standard western diet.

More common, is iron deficiency. While deficiency severe enough to cause anaemia is less common, a subclinical (i.e. causing few or no obvious symptoms) lack of iron is not unusual, especially among girls who have a heavy menstrual period. Many of the protein sources noted above are also high in iron, with green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, seeds like chia and hemp and nuts like cashews being other great additions to boost iron intake. Serve iron with a source of vitamin C, like citrus, kiwis and capsicums, and separate from tea and coffee to enhance absorption.

There is also an increased need for calcium, zinc and folate.2 Calcium can be found in dairy products (and fortified dairy alternatives), green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli (but not spinach, which is low in calcium compared with other green vegetables) and edamame beans. Zinc is found in meat, shellfish (especially oysters), chickpeas and other beans, and nuts and seeds. Folate is particularly important for anyone at risk of pregnancy (i.e. menstruating, sexually active and not using a reliable birth control method) since this B vitamin is vital for the early development of the foetus and is most needed in the time before a woman usually finds out she is pregnant. Beans and lentils, green vegetables (especially dark green like spinach and kale, though asparagus is also a good source), eggs and beetroot are good sources of folate. For anyone actively trying to get pregnant, it is recommended to take a supplement containing at least 400mcg of folate.

Late adolescence and early adulthood

Girls usually stop growing in height aged around 14 or 15, though weight is likely to continue to increase before stabilising at an appropriate adult weight for her height. During late adolescence, a woman’s nutritional needs are approximately the same as they will be for the remainder of her early adulthood until reaching menopause.

Key nutrients to focus on are iron and folate, for the same reasons they are important in early adolescence. Total energy needs may decrease depending on the level of activity – for many, high school includes a significantly higher amount of physical activity than is continued into adulthood, when work may include long periods of sedentary behaviour.

To mitigate the risk of osteoporosis (a disease overwhelmingly affecting women, who account for 80% of cases) in post-menopause, it’s important to maintain bone mineral density throughout adulthood; this can be achieved through regular resistance training and ensuring adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K. Vitamin D is made by our skin from sunlight – be sure to follow safe sun practices! – but is also found in fatty fish, egg yolks and mushrooms. Vitamin K is found in highest amounts in dark green vegetables, like kale, spinach and chard, but is also in brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts), meat, kiwi avocado and cheese. Sources of calcium can be found in the section above.

The takeaway

It might seem overwhelming to think about all the nutrients that your girls need at different stages of life and development, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. By following healthy eating guidelines, including a rainbow of fruits and veggies each week, offering morning and afternoon tea as well as regular meal times, and placing some trust in them to eat to fullness, it should not be difficult for them to get everything their bodies need. If you have concerns, you could speak to her doctor about a suitable single or multivitamin supplement.

References

1. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Nutrition guide for clinicians.
2. Soliman A, De Sanctis V, Elalaily R. Nutrition and pubertal development. Indian J Endocrinol Metab 2014;18(Suppl 1):S39-S47.

Nutrition for Boys: from Birth to Early Adulthood

Throughout life our nutritional needs change to meet differing demands due to growth and development, activity, puberty and some health conditions. Birth to adulthood is a time of rapid changes, and our needs for the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) differ according to age and stage. If your child has


Throughout life our nutritional needs change to meet differing demands due to growth and development, activity, puberty and some health conditions. Birth to adulthood is a time of rapid changes, and our needs for the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) differ according to age and stage. If your child has a health condition which affects his nutritional needs, your paediatrician can refer you to a registered dietitian or nutritionist for advice specific to your child.

0-6 months

Before six months, babies should be getting all their nutrition from breastmilk and/or formula; animal and plant milks aren’t appropriate for babies. If your formula-fed baby has a cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA), there are soy and hydrolysed formula options available.

You may have read (or been told by your doctor) that you can begin offering solid food between four and six months of age; most dietitians agree that you should wait until at least six months unless there is a true medical need.

You should wait to see the following signs of readiness before offering your son solids, such as:

  • he is sitting unsupported
  • he shows interest in your food
  • he has lost the tongue-thrust reflex.

Be sure to familiarise yourself with safe feeding practices and the difference between gagging and choking so you are more confident that you are feeding your baby safely when you start solids.

6 months – 3 years

This is a period of rapid growth, when children’s nutrient needs are higher, per kilogram of bodyweight, than at any other time of life.1 In particular, children need more total energy (kilojoules), protein, essential fatty acids and water – especially when they have a fever or diarrhoea, or on very hot days.1 Iron needs also increase and are difficult to meet through breastmilk or formula, so it is important to ensure that you are offering an iron-rich food source with every meal and snack. Great food sources of iron include meat, mashed beans and lentils – if you’re serving the same foods you eat and the meal is low in iron, an easy and quick addition are chia or hemp seeds sprinkled on top of their food!

Good sources of protein and unsaturated fats for children include eggs (serve scrambled or hard boiled and cut into quarters or mashed on toast for younger babies), seeds like chia or flax, oily fish like salmon or homemade pesto and hummus – you could even replace some of the extra virgin olive oil with walnut or flaxseed oil to boost the level of omega-3!

If your family already eats a varied diet there’s no need to make big changes for your baby or toddler, he can eat everything you eat (except honey if he’s under the age of one) as long as it’s served in a safe way to reduce choking risk; but be conscious of his extra needs for iron, protein and fats, and build meals around this. If your family’s diet isn’t as varied as you’d like, now is a great time to make some changes! Encourage your baby to eat intuitively – that means allowing him to eat until he is full without pressuring or cajoling him to eat more. Children are excellent intuitive eaters if given the chance and will rarely over or under eat; encouraging this from a young age will set him up to have a positive relationship with food throughout his life.

3 years – puberty

This is a period of slower growth between the high growth periods of infancy/toddlerhood and puberty. Puberty starts about age 10 or 11 for boys, though this is an average and may be a little earlier or later.2

Continuing to offer a varied diet, without restricting eating or pressuring children to eat, should be all you need to do to ensure adequate nutritional intake. Remember that a varied diet doesn’t mean no treats are allowed! Moderation is key – it’s not helpful to ban foods which are often labelled “unhealthy”, like high-sugar or high-fat convenience foods (both of which can have a place in a healthy diet, it’s all about balance), as this is likely to lead to overeating when the opportunity arises.

To learn more about smart snacking and support your children intuitively eat and reach for healthier foods, read our article on Children and Snacking: the good, the bad and the interesting.

Puberty and adolescence

At puberty your child once again enters a period of extremely rapid growth – in boys, weight gain increases from an average of 3kg per year to 9kg per year (almost all of which is made up of lean tissue, i.e. muscle and bone) and height increases from about 5cm per year to 9.5cm per year on average.2 All this growth requires a lot more food! This teenage growth spurt means both sexes need to increase their intake significantly (especially if they engage in a lot of sports or athletics) though boys usually need a bigger increase than girls, simply because they tend to be taller with bigger frames; the number of kilojoules per kilogram of bodyweight is the same for boys and girls.2

During this growth spurt, protein needs are increased; however, the body becomes much more efficient at using dietary protein.2 It’s still important to offer protein regularly, in the form of meat, eggs, tofu, beans and lentils or a high quality protein shake (great for a quick snack after sports!), but you probably don’t need to worry that they aren’t getting enough – protein deficiency is extremely rare in a standard western diet.

Of the micronutrients, there is an increased need for calcium, zinc and folate.2 Dairy is a good source of calcium, but there are other sources too, like fortified dairy alternatives, green leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale (not spinach, though, which is low in calcium compared with other green veggies) and edamame beans. Zinc can be found in meat and shellfish (especially oysters) with chickpeas, nuts and seeds being great plant-based sources. Green vegetables are a good source of folate, as well as beans and lentils, eggs and beetroot.

Late adolescence and early adulthood

In late adolescence, a boy’s nutritional needs become approximately what they will be for the remainder of his early adult life (i.e. until around age 50).1 In late adolescence and early adulthood, boys and men have increased needs for several vitamins and minerals – vitamins C, K, B1, B2 and B3, choline, magnesium and zinc.1 Total energy needs may increase or decrease in the transition from school to work, depending on the type of career – for example an office-based job often includes long periods of sedentary behaviour compared with the regular physical activity frequently undertaken in high school.

Vitamin C is found in lots of fruit and vegetables, but is particularly high in citrus fruits, capsicums and kiwis. Salmon is a good source of most B vitamins, including all the ones mentioned above, as is liver; beans and lentils, eggs, dairy and seeds are vegetarian sources of B1, B2 and/or B3, though in lower amounts – in fact the B vitamins are in most plant-based foods so eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains should mean an adequate intake. Foods high in choline include chicken and fish, eggs, beans, broccoli and peas. High magnesium foods include nuts, especially almonds, green leafy vegetables and whole grains; this is, however, another of those nutrients found in most foods.

The takeaway

More important than focussing in on individual macro- and micronutrients is looking at the diet as a whole – ensuring your child gets the nutrition he needs in different life stages doesn’t need to be overwhelming! By offering a rainbow of vegetables through the week, encouraging your child to eat to fullness and not restrict foods, following healthy eating guidelines, offering morning and afternoon tea as well as regular meals and encouraging him to be active in a way he enjoys, it should be easy to ensure your child gets all the nutrients he needs to grow and develop. And while food should always be used as a primary source of nutrition, there may be times in your child’s life where you may like to consider including a good quality multi nutrient supplement, such as Kids Good Stuff, in their diets to help fill any nutritional gaps. However, I always recommend that you speak to your doctor before doing so to ensure it is appropriate for your child’s individual needs.

Healthy habits for healthy smiles: tips for keeping your kid’s teeth, mouth and gums in tip top shape

Is there anything more precious than the smiles of our children? From that first gummy smile, it’s something all parents love to see. As parents, guardians and carers, we play an important role in keeping those smiles sparkling and healthy by teaching children healthy habits like using the new at-home teeth whitening kits for their


Is there anything more precious than the smiles of our children? From that first gummy smile, it’s something all parents love to see. As parents, guardians and carers, we play an important role in keeping those smiles sparkling and healthy by teaching children healthy habits like using the new at-home teeth whitening kits for their oral health .

The most recent survey into tooth decay in Australian children, from 2005, found that almost half (49%) of five to six-year-old’s had baby teeth which were decayed, missing or had fillings; a similar number (45%) of 12-year-old’s had adult teeth which were decayed, missing or had fillings.1 While we don’t know whether these numbers have changed in the years between the survey and now, it’s clear that tooth health is an important concern for Australian parents.

Why healthy teeth, mouth and gums are important

A less-than-sparkling smile isn’t the only consequence of poor oral health. Poor oral health is also connected to heart health, pregnancy outcomes and lung health.2 While some of these may not be a worry for your five-year-old, setting up good habits early in life can help to protect them in the future.

Why is tooth brushing important?

The first line of defence for clean and healthy teeth is regular tooth brushing. You’ll need to help your child brush their teeth until they’re about seven, and to continue supervising their tooth brushing even when they can do it independently.3 Remember “two for two” – brushing and flossing two times a day for two minutes – with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste will go a long way to protecting your children’s teeth!

When should kids start tooth brushing?

The Australian Dental Association also recommends beginning regular dental visits from the time your child gets their first tooth or at 12 months, whichever comes first.3 Hence, as a precautionary measure, when my second child was born and his teething had begun, I found out the best dentist near me and ensured that we took up sessions with him every quarter. Make sure you take your children to a dentist with whom are comfortable with, someone who knows how to handle children and has the latest technology, equipment and the appropriate dental chairs for children.

Tips for tooth brushing from real mums!

It’s not uncommon for children to put up a bit of a fuss while brushing their teeth! We spoke to a group of real mums and asked them for their top tips for encouraging teeth brushing.

Alyssa, 31: “I ask my son to brush his dolls teeth first before I brush his teeth so that he feels like he has an important job too!”

Kayla, 32: “I make sure to brush my teeth alongside my children, so that they see the correct technique and know it’s something we all do, even as grownups!”

Joanna, 28: “We have a special podcast for brushing teeth that I listen to with my daughters – they get so excited to listen every day that they remind ME it’s time to brush!”

Foods for healthy teeth, mouth and gums

Of course, when talking about healthy teeth we need to talk about diet. If you Look At This, you may think that you need to cut certain foods out of your children’s diet to keep their teeth healthy, but all foods can be included with moderation and solid tooth-brushing habits. All vitamins and minerals play some role in keeping your children’s mouths healthy,4 however there are a few nutrients in particular that should be included in your children’s diets to help boost their dental health. You can click this link here now to know all about dental health and how it will boost your child’s personality.

Calcium

Calcium is probably the nutrient that most of us think of when we think of healthy teeth. Calcium is important not just for teeth, but for a strong jaw bone to anchor the teeth into.5 Dairy is a good food source of calcium, but if your family is dairy-free there are plenty of other ways to get this important nutrient – fortified milk alternatives, dark green veggies (especially kale and broccoli), soy and other beans and pulses, almonds, tahini and seeds like chia and flax.

Phosphorous

Phosphorous works with calcium in the body and both are needed in the right ratio for maximum efficiency, meaning phosphorous is also an important nutrient for teeth and bone health.5 Luckily, many of the foods which are good sources of calcium also contain good levels of phosphorous! Dairy is one good food source of calcium, however so too are seeds (sunflower and pumpkin are the highest in phosphorus), nuts like almond and brazil nuts, beans and fermented soy products like tempeh.

Looking for a delicious breakfast that is also teeth, mouth and gum healthy? Try these Berry-Banana Powerhouse Pancakes.

Vitamin C

While calcium and phosphorous are great for teeth and bones, vitamin C is needed to build collagen which helps to keep gums healthy.5,6 While you can take a collagen supplement (note that collagen is generally from animal sources so is unsuitable for vegetarian or vegan families), it’s usually unnecessary; as a diet that contains enough protein and vitamin C is enough to ensure adequate collagen is made in the body. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables and is particularly high in citrus fruits, kiwi, capsicum and berries.

We understand that it can be difficult to ensure that our kids are getting everything they need to thrive from diet alone. That is why we developed Kids Good Stuff – a daily multi nutrient supplement designed to help fill key gaps in the diet of growing, active kids, so they can be at their best. With 206mg of calcium, 40mg of phosphorous and 100mg of vitamin C per serve (21%, 5% and 261% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) respectively), Kids Good Stuff is suitable for supporting healthy teeth, mouth and gums in growing kids.

Fuelling Young Athletes

Most children are involved in some level of organised sport outside of school hours, with 63% of children participating in some type of athletic activity at least once a week, and 25% three times per week.1 If your child is included in this number, you might be wondering how best to fuel your young athlete


Most children are involved in some level of organised sport outside of school hours, with 63% of children participating in some type of athletic activity at least once a week, and 25% three times per week.1 If your child is included in this number, you might be wondering how best to fuel your young athlete in order to ensure they have enough energy to train, play and recover well after participating in organised sports. When we look at maintaining the enthusiasm of the child, other factors get overlooked, which could be detrimental to the interest of the child in the sport. For example, if your child has taken a liking to tennis, encourage him by getting him tennis gear from tennisracquets.com

Nutrition for Energy

For kids to perform their best they need adequate energy levels. Factor in that they’re not just playing sports, but going to school, doing homework and navigating friendships, and it’s easy to see why kids might be feeling low in energy and need a little boost.

First, let’s talk about calories and amount of food. Children and adolescents of both genders are growing rapidly and need enough calories to ensure healthy growth and development. This is not a time to be concerned with weight, and calorie-controlled diets should be severely discouraged. We often hear “he’s a growing boy! He eats so much!” in a tone of glowing pride but rarely do we hear this about girls despite an equal need for sufficient calories to support growth. I challenge you to change this outlook in your households!

More specifically, there are certain nutrients that we know can help our bodies feel energetic.

  • Carbohydrates: carbs are the easiest energy source for our body to use. Ensure a carb source is served with each meal and snack; aim for whole grains or vegetable sources like brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, oats and sweet potatoes for longer-lasting energy.
  • B-vitamins: if you can drag your minds back to high school biology lessons, you might remember learning about mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell!); in essence, the mitochondria extract energy from the foods we eat. Almost all of the B-vitamins are involved in this process.2 No one food contains all of them (unless fortified) so it’s important to ensure a varied diet including meat and dairy (if your family eats those), beans and seeds. It’s important to note that vitamin B12 is predominately found in animal products, so if your family is vegan, you’ll need to find a fortified food (like nutritional yeast) or take a supplement.
  • Magnesium: magnesium is used in many body processes, including normal muscle function, and may help to improve performance in exercise,3 as well as being a part of the mitochondrial process mentioned above in ‘B vitamins’.2 Nuts (especially almonds, cashews and brazil nuts), beans, seeds (like flax and pumpkin), bananas and whole grains are particularly good sources of magnesium.
  • Iron: you’ve probably heard that low iron can cause fatigue and low energy. That’s because iron is part of red blood cells; these carry oxygen to all your muscles and organs, which they need to function correctly.2 However, it’s important to have the right balance of iron – not too little, but not too much either – so try to get iron from food sources and only supplement if medically necessary (for example if your doctor recommends it). Iron is famously found in meat, especially red meat, but it’s also in leafy greens (like spinach), beans, seeds and tofu.

Nutrition for recovery

After exercise, it’s important to help muscles recover. The most effective way to replenish muscles is to have a small, carbohydrate-rich snack immediately following exercise; adding protein may allow faster endurance recovery.4 Try packing an easy snack for children to eat after sports – a granola bar, smoothie (like this Rapid Recovery Smoothie), apple wedges and almonds, cheese and crackers or pretzels and nut butter are great options for an easy after-sports snack (for foods which need to stay cool, pack in a small esky with an ice pack or use an insulated flask for drinks).

Hydration

This one is so important it gets its own paragraph. Good hydration is absolutely vital for both energy levels and recovery after exercise. Especially on those hot summer days, we need to make sure kids are hydrating before and throughout exercise as well as after. Water is the first choice here, but coconut water and diluted juice can be used too. Sports drinks are probably not necessary, but a rehydration formula full of electrolytes may be helpful after long periods of exercise or on very hot days.

Other lifestyle tips

Of course, food and water are part of the equation, but there are other things we can do to increase energy and boost recovery:

  • Ensure adequate and good quality sleep.
  • A good stretching routine after exercising can prevent sore muscles and aid recovery.
  • Epsom salt baths can help reduce muscle soreness.

You may also like our article ‘Raising Active Kids: how much physical activity do kids need?

Raising Active Kids: How much physical activity do children need?

We all know that we should probably be moving more and sitting less, but how much physical activity do children need? And how can we encourage our children to be active? In this technological age of 24-hour entertainment, social media and screens, it’s important to think about ways that we can foster healthy habits in


We all know that we should probably be moving more and sitting less, but how much physical activity do children need? And how can we encourage our children to be active? In this technological age of 24-hour entertainment, social media and screens, it’s important to think about ways that we can foster healthy habits in our children in order to help them achieve daily physical activity recommendations.

Physical activity guidelines for children

So how much physical activity do children need? The Australian Government recommends the following amounts of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, by age:1

Table 1: Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

While government recommendations suggest that screen time should be limited to 1-2 hours per day, as parents we understand that this isn’t always a realistic target (particularly at the moment when children are attending classes online!). We suggest that screen time and usage be monitored by parents to ensure that it isn’t getting in the way of healthy social behaviours and physical activity.

Health benefits of physical activity for children

Benefits of daily movement for children include:2

  • Healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • Healthy lungs and heart
  • Improved coordination and muscle control
  • Maintain flexibility of muscles
  • Improved balance and posture
  • Improved concentration
  • Improved health in later life

But most of all, it’s fun!!

Tips for getting children moving!

The biggest tip for encouraging your kids to move is to make it fun! If you have toddlers or younger children, find things for the whole family to do together. Climbing at the playground, playing with a ball at the park or riding bikes can not only build fitness but also create fun and lasting family memories!

Organised sports are a great option for older children, combining not just movement but teamwork and socialising too. Check out the kids’ recipes on our website for some great on-the-go snacks for after Saturday sports! If you have a dog, get the kids involved in taking him/her for their daily walk. Other chores can also be a great way to include moments of movement through the day; mowing the lawn, hanging the washing and sweeping the deck are small tasks that kids can help with to break up long periods of inactivity.

What about food?

First, and most importantly, don’t talk about diets or restriction of food with your children. It’s generally unnecessary and unhelpful and can lead to things like food guilt and unhealthy restriction. Aim to encourage intuitive eating, where no food is off limits and we listen to our bodies to feed them what they need to help them thrive!

Learn about intuitive snacking for children in this article.

Having said that, there are ways to encourage kids and teens to be mindful of eating a wide range of foods and choosing foods to help give their bodies the necessary nutrients and energy to live a full and active life.

  • Model behaviour you’d like to see in them. Eat your veggies Mum! No dodging the salads Dad! Seriously, children are more receptive to trying new foods if they see you eat them first.
  • Exposure, exposure, exposure! Don’t give up the first time your child says they don’t like broccoli. Continue to serve it, only giving very small pieces so its not overwhelming. Don’t pressure them to eat vegetables they aren’t keen on, let them come to it when they’re ready. Do you have a picky eater in your household? Specialist Paediatric Dietitian Jessica Gust shared some great tips with us for overcoming picky eating in this article.
  • Get them involved in an age appropriate way. Toddlers as young as 18 months can help to stir things or chuck a handful of nuts into a salad. Preschoolers can help pick out veggies at the supermarket or even help to cut things (with a safety knife, of course). Older teens could be given the responsibility of cooking once a week. All of these are opportunities to not just taste, but touch, smell and see the foods before they’re on the plate – this all counts as exposure!
  • Remove distractions from mealtimes. No TV and no screens at the table.
  • Think of snacks as mini meals and make them balanced. Smoothies are a great way to include veggies, fats, protein and carbohydrates into a quick and delicious mini meal that children of all ages can help to prepare.
  • Include a fruit or vegetable at most (preferably all) meals and mini meals. Why not try our nutritious, delicious Rich Chocolate Mousse – I bet you can’t guess the secret ingredient! For more tips on squeezing extra fruit and veg in your child’s diet, check out our interview with Nutritionist and mum of two, Casey-Lee Chambers.

Children need a diet containing all the vitamins and minerals, as well as sufficient protein, fats and carbohydrates. This can be difficult if children are picky eaters; in this case continue to serve food (remember, every exposure counts) and consider including a good quality multinutrient supplement such as Kids Good Stuff to fill the nutritional gaps in their diet.

The Role of Nutrition in Childhood Growth and Development

Growth and development are complex processes that require the right balance of nutrients. Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Kira Sutherland, discusses the important role of nutrition in childhood growth and development below.   Interestingly, by the time your child has reached primary school, their brain has developed more and at a faster rate than at any other point in


Growth and development are complex processes that require the right balance of nutrients. Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Kira Sutherland, discusses the important role of nutrition in childhood growth and development below.  

Interestingly, by the time your child has reached primary school, their brain has developed more and at a faster rate than at any other point in their life. We often use the terms growth and development interchangeably when we talk about children growing up, however they are each defined by different characteristics. Growth refers to a measurable increase in size, such as height and weight, whereas development refers to the acquiring of attitude, behaviours, and social skills. The third key milestone is maturation, which is the progression into adulthood at a set time and tempo, depending on gender and other individual determinants.1

The impact of poor nutrition on growth and development

Malnutrition in the form of not enough foods and nutrients consumed, or poor-quality food choices, can be detrimental to a child’s growth and development. Whilst commonly associated with developing nations, stunted and faltering growth due to malnutrition can occur in first world nations too. Stunting may not only affect the physical attributes of a child but can also impact cognitive and neurodevelopment.1 

The importance of good nutrition for growth and development

When children are of primary school age, they are developing cognitive, social, emotional and language skills, as well as fine and gross motor skills at a rapid rate. During this time, boys and girls will grow an average height of 30cm, and gain 34kg of weight,1 this is because the body is preparing to transition into pre-pubescents, pubescents and young adults. Accordingly, it is important that children receive the right nutrition over this time to fuel their growth and development.

happy young girl

Nutrients that are important for growth and development

The extended periods of growth and development that are associated with children of primary school and pubescent age, see with it a higher demand for nutrients than adults.1 Calcium, magnesium and protein are considered particularly important for childhood growth and development.

Calcium

When we think of structure, strength, teeth and bones, calcium is probably the number one mineral that springs to mind. During peak time of physical change, calcium is required to ensure bones mineralise or grow as we would expect them to, and that peak bone density (the optimal thickness and therefore strength of our bones) is achieved. This is vital to reduce the risk osteoporosis in the later stages of life.2

Dairy foods are often thought of first when we think of calcium; cheese, milks, and yogurt, but there are other excellent non-dairy based sources of calcium too. Poppy and sesame seeds, along with almonds and broccoli are good sources, as are oily fish such as sardines and salmon. In small children though, bones in fish may be a choking hazard, please use your discretion.

Magnesium

Many of us think about magnesium as being the muscle mineral, however, 50% of the body’s magnesium is found in the bones.3 The role that magnesium plays in the body is varied; being used in over 300 metabolic reactions that help our bodies produce energy from the foods we give it.4 Whilst magnesium is readily available in a lot of foods, many of them are foods which picky eaters may find challenging. These include spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds and avocado. Kids Good Stuff may be a useful tool to have in your belt when it comes to picky eaters. One serve of Kids Good Stuff offers 15mg of magnesium, which equates to around a quarter of your child’s daily needs.

Protein

Neither a vitamin nor mineral, protein is a macronutrient. Protein is often thought of when we think of body builders or big muscles. Due to the role that dietary protein plays in the remodelling and growth of the tissues used in muscles and bones, ensuring adequate dietary protein for children is essential.1 Good sources of dietary protein include; lean meats (beef, chicken, turkey), eggs, quinoa, amaranth and lentils.

family eating meal together

So, what should we feed our kids?

When we think of a healthy diet for our children, we can draw from the Eat for Health – Dietary Guidelines for Australia.

  1. Children and young adults should eat enough nutritious foods to ensure growth and development occur at the correct rate – this of course should be adjusted to meet individual physical activity levels.
  2. A nutritious diet should consist of fresh, whole foods with a focus on vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish and meat alternatives such as eggs and nuts. Children should also eat wholegrain cereals, as part of a balance diet, and dairy or dairy alternatives daily.
  3. Limit of processed, refined, high-sugar foods, and limit artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. Water should be the drink of choice, and children should be encouraged to drink water freely; other drinks such as fruit juice should be given sparingly.
Kira Sutherland

Help Your Kids Sleep Better with these Expert-Approved Sleep Tips

When we become parents, we generally know that we are going to have to sacrifice some sleep. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t try some tips and tactics to help our children (and ourselves!) sleep a little better. Sleep is vital for our bodies to function; growth, repair and healing, learning and memory, decision


When we become parents, we generally know that we are going to have to sacrifice some sleep. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t try some tips and tactics to help our children (and ourselves!) sleep a little better.

Sleep is vital for our bodies to function; growth, repair and healing, learning and memory, decision making, problem solving, behaviour, mood, blood sugar control, hormones, immunity and reaction times are all affected by sleep, so chronic (long term) deficiency in either sleep quantity or quality can have serious consequences to health and wellbeing.1

As adults, we need around eight hours of sleep each night to feel our best, however children generally need a little more (see image below2). With this being said, it should also be noted that rarely, children do fall outside these sleep needs and function well on an hour or two more or less. So, it is suggested that you judge your child’s sleep needs by considering their behaviour and the below sleep recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation.

sleep recommendations based on age

Insufficient sleep in children doesn’t look like it does in adults – overtired children will often resist bedtime and seem full of energy! It is also important to note that some children are natural early wakers; a child that wakes at 5am may seem like a problem to you, but if they are getting enough total sleep it may prove difficult to change that early waking habit.

If you think your child may be getting insufficient sleep, read on for some tips to help them drift off to dreamland and wake refreshed!

Sleep Hygiene

‘Sleep hygiene’ is the combination of habits and routines which can help improve your sleep. Establishing a solid nighttime routine, in conjunction with making a few small adjustments to improve your kids sleep hygiene can make a big difference in improving the quality and quantity of their sleep. Some examples include:3

  • Waking them up and putting them to sleep at the same time each day – yes, even on weekends!
  • Getting out into some sunshine or natural daylight first thing in the morning to help set their body clock.
  • Setting a solid and predictable routine – this may be as little as 30 minutes or up to two hours, and could include things like a warm bath or shower, reading a book and/or singing a song.
  • Ensuring their bedroom is suited for sleep – keep toys out of the room if possible, keep the temperature consistent and avoid loud noises.
  • Avoiding screen time, preferably 30-60 minutes before bed.
dad reading book to kids before bed

Physical Activity

Just like puppies, children need to be thoroughly worn out! Ensuring a good amount of physical activity each day will help your child fall asleep more quickly. However, try not to allow your child to engage in vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as warm muscles may prevent sleep.3

Diet

An important aspect of life that effects almost everything we do, including our sleep quality, is our diet! A number of specific vitamins, minerals and nutrients are particularly helpful for promoting good quality sleep. These include…

  • Tryptophan, which is an amino acid found in many protein containing foods such as peas, beans, dairy, eggs and turkey. Tryptophan has been found to improve sleep efficiency (a measure of the amount of time spent asleep vs the amount of time spent in bed) and wake time after sleep onset (how much time is spent awake during the night between falling asleep and getting up for the day).4
  • Iron, which is found in meat and dark green leafy veggies. Research indicates that iron deficiency may modify normal brain processes that play an important role in sleep regulation, thus adequate iron is believed to be necessary for normal sleep patterns.5 Try serving iron-rich foods with foods that contain vitamin C, like oranges or kiwi fruit, to improve iron absorption!
  • Magnesium, which is found in dark green leafy veggies, as well as whole grains, peas, beans and nuts. Magnesium helps to regulate our circadian rhythm – our inbuilt “clock” which tells us when to be sleepy and when to be awake.6

Ensuring that your kids consume enough calories through the day is also important – nothing disrupts sleep like an empty belly! Adding a small supper an hour before bedtime, such as these delicious Green Dinosaur Popsicles, which contain protein, magnesium and iron thanks to the addition of Kids Good Stuff, may help your child get a good night’s sleep.

Kid’s Nutrition and Immunity: How to support your kid’s immune system naturally

What is the immune system? Our immune system is our protection from viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.  It is our coat or armour as well as our armies that protect us. Our immune system is a complex and multi layered system that operates to keep us protected and well. There are three layers of protection


What is the immune system?

Our immune system is our protection from viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.  It is our coat or armour as well as our armies that protect us. Our immune system is a complex and multi layered system that operates to keep us protected and well.

There are three layers of protection in our immune system, each responding to different threats.1 The first part of the system is the barrier system, which is both physical and biochemical and works to trap invading organisms or substances. This includes the skin, sweat, saliva and tears. The second and third parts of the immune system are the actual immune cells and antibodies that work to protect us internally. Each of these parts work together to form our overall immune system. 

The defence strategy of the immune system can be divided into two categories. The first is called ‘innate immunity’, and it refers to the immediate response of the immune system to foreign pathogens. The other is called ‘adaptive immunity’, and it refers to parts of the immune system which use the memory of previous pathogen threats to enhance its immune response.

How is nutrition and immunity linked?

There are tight links between nutrition and immunity.2 Malnutrition is considered one of the leading causes of immunodeficiency (weakened immunity) in the world.3 While within first world countries we have the issue not of malnutrition due to lack of food, but issues of nutritional deficiency from the inadequate nutritional composition of over processed and discretionary foods and drinks.4

What weakens the immune system?

Certain lifestyle factors can weaken the immune system. Poor sleep pattens, exposure to pollution/toxic chemicals and a lack of clean air or sunshine can create oxidative stress on the body that in turn can modify or suppress the immune system1.

For infants, children and teens, diet can play a major role in either supporting or hindering the immune system. The role that the diet plays on a child’s immunity is twofold. Firstly, a poorly composed diet will lead to nutritional deficits that may impact proper immune function through suppression or dysfunction of the immune response.5 Secondly, a diet of highly processed, refined, discretionary foods may lead to oxidative stress and inflammation which can further burden the immune system.

What are the health consequences of having a weak immune system?

It has been reported that on average, the Australian child can get 5-10 colds a year.6 This is not only an issue for the child but for the caretaker and family members as well. Time off school or work, lack of exercise, or subsequent family members becoming ill can all create a cycle of illness and stress. A child who is unwell is likely to also have a diminished appetite, which in turn leads to decreased nutritional intake and therefore poorer nutritional status. This potentially leads to greater nutritional deficiencies, thus resulting in compromised immune function and lower immunity7.

What helps to strengthen the immune system?

There is a strong correlation between individuals who have robust immune systems and the qualities and interactions of the following four factors: genetics, environment, lifestyle, nutrition8. Whilst we have limited control over genetics and environment, we do have a good ability to influence nutritional status and lifestyle factors, especially for children and teens.

What foods and nutrients help to boost the immune system?

When we think of immune boosting nutrients and foods, most of us will immediately think of Vitamin C, garlic and cod liver oil. However, if you have ever tried to give a child, particularly a picky eater, garlic or cod liver oil you’ll know that getting beneficial nutrients and foods into their diet isn’t always easy.

From a nutrition perspective, some of the vitamins, minerals, and functional foods that are required for a strong immune system include vitamin A1,5,8, vitamin C1,5,8, vitamin D1,5,7,8, zinc1,5,7,8 and probiotics7,8. Each of these micronutrients work in different ways to help strengthen the immune system. Some help support the physical barriers of defence, while other nutrients strengthen and support the immune cells and antibodies to perform their roles.

Nuzest Kids Good Stuff contains a number of immune boosting nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, selenium probiotics and more, to help support children’s health. Available in three yummy flavours, rich chocolate, wild strawberry and vanilla caramel, Nuzest Kids Good Stuff is a great way to help your kids get all of the nutrients they need to help keep them happy from the inside out.

For a list of more immune boosting plant-based foods, check out this article by Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist Rachel Hawkins.

Kira Sutherland