Ten Tips For Becoming Your Family's Nutritionist - Article Three
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Ten Tips For Becoming Your Family\'s Nutritionist  -  Article Three

Following are the next three tips.

You as parents have a nutritional window of opportunity in your child's first few years to shape their tastes into lifelong healthy eating habits. Here are the next three of ten tips that will give your infant a smart nutritional start.

7. Mind Your Minerals.

Like vitamins, minerals are micronutrients; your child's body needs only a small amount to stay healthy. Minerals get into foods from the soil, and into seafood from the ocean. Calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium, the big three minerals, help build strong bones. Iron and copper build blood. Zinc boosts immunity. Sodium and potassium (called electrolytes) regulate the body's water balance. Honorable mention is given to the smaller members of the mineral family, called trace elements, which help fine-tune the body's functions: iodine, manganese, chromium, cobalt, fluoride, molybdenum, and selenium. Deficiencies of these minerals and trace elements are rate, except for iron, since they are found in all the same food sources as vitamins. The two most important members of the mineral team are iron and calcium.

8. Pump Up Baby's Iron

Iron is an important mineral for the proper functioning of all vital organs. Its main use is to build hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen. During well-baby checkups, usually between nine and fifteen months, the doctor should check your baby's hemoglobin by taking one drop of blood from a finger stick. An infant's hemoglobin normally ranges from eleven to thirteen grams. If the hemoglobin is below eleven, the infant is termed "anemic," or has "low blood." If the anemia is due to insufficient iron, this condition is termed "iron-deficiency anemia." Signs and symptoms of this problem are irritability, slow growth, diminished appetite, fatigue, and a generally pale appearance, especially noticeable on the earlobes and lips and beneath the fingernails. New insights into iron requirements show that infants and children with long-term iron-deficiency anemia are at risk for delayed intellectual development.

To understand how your baby can become iron deficient, let's follow this interesting mineral through the body. During baby's life in the womb the mother gives him a lot of extra iron, which is stored in the tissues of his body and in the hemoglobin or red blood cells. (While term babies are born with a large supply of reserve iron stored in their bodies, premature infants need iron supplements beginning at birth. As old red blood cells are used up and disposed of by the body, much of the iron is recycled into new blood cells. As the iron in the blood is used up, the iron stores in the body portion out enough iron to keep baby's blood hemoglobin normal. If no dietary iron were to come in, these stores would be used by the six months. This is the nutritional rationale for giving babies iron-rich milk, either breast milk or iron-fortified formula, beginning at birth, or at least within the first few months. Here are some guidelines for avoiding iron deficiency.

Breastfeed your baby for as long as you can. The special iron in your milk has a high bioavailability, so 50 to7 percent of it is absorbed, but only 4 to 10 percent of iron in other foods, such as iron-fortified cereals and formulas, gets into your baby's blood. In studies breastfed infants had a higher hemoglobin value at four to six months than infants who were fed an iron-fortified formula.

Avoid cow's milk for infants; limit it for toddlers. Cow's milk (which is very low in iron) should not be given as a beverage to infants under one year of age. Besides being a poor source of dietary iron, excessive cow's milk can irritate the lining of your infant's intestines, causing tiny losses of iron over a long period of time, further contributing to iron-deficiency anemia. Also limit your toddler's cow's milk consumption to no more than twenty-four ounces (710 milliliters) a day.

If formula feeding, use iron-fortified formula. Give your bottle-fed infant iron-fortified formula, preferably beginning at birth, but at least by four months of age. Continue iron-fortified formula for at least one year, or until your infant has adequate alternative dietary sources of iron.

Combine foods wisely. Some foods help and others hinder iron absorption. Feeding solids just before or right after breastfeeding can diminish absorption of the valuable iron in breast milk. For this reason, if your baby is iron deficient, space the feeding of solid foods and breastfeeding by at least twenty minutes. Here are some iron helpers: Vitamin C-containing foods (fruits and juice) are iron enhances, meaning they increase the iron absorption from other foods. Orange juice with a meal can double the amount of iron absorbed from the food. Drinking milk with a meal can decrease the amount of iron absorbed from other foods. Nutritionists believe that animal protein foods contain a "meat factor" that improves the absorption of vegetable iron eaten at the same time as meat. The best co-helpers are meat and vitamin C-containing foods eaten together at the same meal, for example, spaghetti with meat and tomato sauce, hamburgers and coleslaw, or a turkey sandwich and orange juice. Another good combination is fruit and iron-fortified cereal.

Best Iron Sources For Babies

* breast milk

* iron-fortified formula

* iron-fortified cereals

* prune juice

* tomato paste

* tofu

* chili con carne with beans

* lentils

* soybeans

* beans (kidney, pinto)

* turkey

* fish

Iron requirements: Babies and children need around one milligram of iron per pound (0.5 milligram per kilogram) of body weight per day. If your doctor finds your baby iron deficient, baby will need around 6 milligrams of iron per pound every day for several months.

9. Make Every Calorie Count

Toddlers have tiny tummies, about the size of their fists. Add this anatomical fact to the temperament of a busy toddler who doesn't want to sit still for anything, especially eating, and you have a recipe for a "picky eater." Encourage grazing. Offer your toddler nutrient-rich foods, those that pack a lot of nutrition, in frequent, small doses.

Top Nutrient-rich Foods

Consider these nutrient-rich foods that toddler are most willing to eat:

* avocado

* broccoli

* brown rice

* cheese

* eggs

* fish (salmon)

* kidney beans

* nut butter spreads

* oatmeal

* pasta (whole grain)

* sweet potatoes

* tofu

* turkey

* yogurt

The Ten Tips for Becoming your Family's Nutritionist will follow with Article four.

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Sally Michener


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