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Nutrition by life stage: making sure your entire family gets the nutrients they need

Nutrition by life stage: making sure your entire family gets the nutrients they need

Do your family members need supplements to ensure good nutrition?

The amounts and proportions of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need differ depending on our life stage.  This article offers a brief overview of the nutritional areas to pay particular attention to in each family member.  
In an ideal world, everyone would get their nutrients from fresh, whole foods. However, if dietary restrictions or food preferences make this difficult, high-quality supplements may be useful.

Toddlers: nutrition that supports rapid growth and development

Toddlers are constantly active and grow quickly, so they need good levels of essential vitamins and minerals to help them develop into healthy, happy children. Some of the most important nutrients to support their growth and development include:

  • Zinc: 3mg/day1 helps to maintain healthy immunity, plus normal brain development.
  • Vitamin D: 5mcg (200IU)/day works with Calcium to build healthy bones, as well as healthy immunity.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (both EPA and DHA): good levels support healthy brain and eye development.  DHA is also essential for normal learning and behaviour. 

School-age children: setting good nutritional habits

Children take the dietary habits they learn now into adulthood. That means they need plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein and fibre-rich carbohydrates each day, with regular, healthy snacks.

A good balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, plus essential vitamins and minerals will help children keep up with school, sport and family activities.  Other essential nutrients to keep their energy levels and immunity up and help with their learning and development include: 

  • Vitamin C: 35-40mg/day support their white blood cell function (part of their immune system).
  • Iodine:  90-120mcg supports healthy growth, development and thyroid function.
  • DHA: as with toddlers, good levels support children’s learning and behaviour.

Teenagers: changing bodies, changing nutrient needs

Between ages 12-18, teenagers experience unprecedented levels of hormonal, emotional and life changes that create unique nutritional demands.  However, a hectic schedule filled with schoolwork, sports, cultural demands, part-time work and social activities can mean they skip meals and go short on nutrients.

Vitamins and minerals that help teenagers stay healthy include:

  • Calcium: 1300mg/day helps teenagers to build strong, healthy bones.
  • Iron: 8mg/day helps them maintain good energy levels and concentration. This is especially important for teenage girls so that they replace the iron they lose through menstruation. 
  • B-complex vitamins: specific intake requirements vary depending on the specific B-vitamin, but good levels overall are essential for energy production, nerve function and brain health. 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: nutrition for two

Good nutrition is vital before pregnancy, during it, and while breastfeeding to keep both mother and baby healthy.  The right nutrition gives the child their best start in life, and helps the mother cope with the demands of labour and breastfeeding.

Essential vitamins and minerals for this time include:

  • Folic Acid:  600mcg/day for 1-3 months before conceiving and during the first trimester can reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida. 
  • Iodine:  220mcg/day supports the baby's growth and brain development during pregnancy. This requirement goes up to 270mcg/day for breastfeeding.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D3: 1000mg/day of Calcium helps to keep bones strong and healthy in both mother and baby.

1All nutrient values in this articles are RDIs (Recommended Dietary Intakes) taken from the NZ Ministry of Health’s Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, 2006

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Nutrition by life stage: making sure your entire family gets the nutrients they need

Throughout lifetime, family members have differing vitamins, mineral & other nutrient needs. Learn about the nutritional differences here.

Do your family members need supplements to ensure good nutrition?

The amounts and proportions of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need differ depending on our life stage.  This article offers a brief overview of the nutritional areas to pay particular attention to in each family member.  
In an ideal world, everyone would get their nutrients from fresh, whole foods. However, if dietary restrictions or food preferences make this difficult, high-quality supplements may be useful.

Toddlers: nutrition that supports rapid growth and development

Toddlers are constantly active and grow quickly, so they need good levels of essential vitamins and minerals to help them develop into healthy, happy children. Some of the most important nutrients to support their growth and development include:

  • Zinc: 3mg/day1 helps to maintain healthy immunity, plus normal brain development.
  • Vitamin D: 5mcg (200IU)/day works with Calcium to build healthy bones, as well as healthy immunity.
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids (both EPA and DHA): good levels support healthy brain and eye development.  DHA is also essential for normal learning and behaviour. 

School-age children: setting good nutritional habits

Children take the dietary habits they learn now into adulthood. That means they need plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein and fibre-rich carbohydrates each day, with regular, healthy snacks.

A good balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats, plus essential vitamins and minerals will help children keep up with school, sport and family activities.  Other essential nutrients to keep their energy levels and immunity up and help with their learning and development include: 

  • Vitamin C: 35-40mg/day support their white blood cell function (part of their immune system).
  • Iodine:  90-120mcg supports healthy growth, development and thyroid function.
  • DHA: as with toddlers, good levels support children’s learning and behaviour.

Teenagers: changing bodies, changing nutrient needs

Between ages 12-18, teenagers experience unprecedented levels of hormonal, emotional and life changes that create unique nutritional demands.  However, a hectic schedule filled with schoolwork, sports, cultural demands, part-time work and social activities can mean they skip meals and go short on nutrients.

Vitamins and minerals that help teenagers stay healthy include:

  • Calcium: 1300mg/day helps teenagers to build strong, healthy bones.
  • Iron: 8mg/day helps them maintain good energy levels and concentration. This is especially important for teenage girls so that they replace the iron they lose through menstruation. 
  • B-complex vitamins: specific intake requirements vary depending on the specific B-vitamin, but good levels overall are essential for energy production, nerve function and brain health. 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: nutrition for two

Good nutrition is vital before pregnancy, during it, and while breastfeeding to keep both mother and baby healthy.  The right nutrition gives the child their best start in life, and helps the mother cope with the demands of labour and breastfeeding.

Essential vitamins and minerals for this time include:

  • Folic Acid:  600mcg/day for 1-3 months before conceiving and during the first trimester can reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida. 
  • Iodine:  220mcg/day supports the baby's growth and brain development during pregnancy. This requirement goes up to 270mcg/day for breastfeeding.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D3: 1000mg/day of Calcium helps to keep bones strong and healthy in both mother and baby.

1All nutrient values in this articles are RDIs (Recommended Dietary Intakes) taken from the NZ Ministry of Health’s Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, 2006

Nutrition by life stage: making sure your entire family gets the nutrients they need
 

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