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    Nutrients Your Kids May Be Missing

    By Susan Bernstein
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

    Stephanie and Rick Darby spend lots of time and energy choosing healthy foods for their two kids.

    “We want them getting the right nutrients for their growth and brain development,” says Rick, who lives in Grand Rapids, MI. Both parents scan food labels for amounts of sugar, protein, and vitamins.

    It’s challenging to create nutritious meals that appeal to both Zander, 7, and Zoe, 5, Rick says.

    “Zoe would live on fresh fruits, vegetables, and beans. Zander would eat mostly mac and cheese. So they’re two different eaters, and we try to get them to compromise.”

    Whether your kid is a picky eater, a snacker, or a try-anything type, the right amount and mix of nutrients helps them grow healthy brains and bodies. Especially between the ages of 4 and 13, kids go through major physical and mental growth. Healthy eating fuels those changes.

    “It’s important that children get a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and a small amount of healthy fats. A balanced diet will provide virtually all the nutrients that children need,” says Susanna Huh, MD, associate director of the Center of Nutrition at Boston Children’s Hospital.

    What nutrients are most important for kids’ growth, how much should they eat, and why? Here’s a quick list to help you put together good meals and snacks.


    It builds muscles and other tissues in kids’ bodies. Plus, it helps them boost their immune systems.

    How much kids need: 3-5 ounces per day for children 2-8 years old, or 5-8 ounces for kids ages 10-14.

    Good sources: Fish, chicken, turkey, lean meats, nuts, eggs, milk, yogurt, string cheese, peanut butter, and edamame.


    This nutrient helps you make red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the body, and it helps children grow. Without it, they can get anemia.

    How much kids need: Around 10 milligrams a day for 4- to 8-year-olds. After that, 8 milligrams a day.

    Good sources: Red meat, beans, green leafy vegetables, tuna, eggs, dried beans, iron-fortified cereal.

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