It’s winter, and that means your child’s body needs an extra boost of nutrients to fight off nasty viruses. We spoke to our house nutritionist Lisa Lanzano, MS, RD to learn which nutrients are important to support kids’ immune systems, and what are some kid-friendly foods containing those nutrients.
Bell peppers are one of the top sources for vitamin C. They are naturally sweet when eaten raw. “Choose red over green, because they don’t upset your stomach as much. Green peppers can make the stomach hurt,” Lisa says.
Two other great sources of vitamin C for kids are orange juice and strawberries.
Red meat has zinc in it – “beef, followed by turkey meat,” Lisa says. Another great way to get zinc – and most kids love it – is yogurt. The richest source of zinc among nuts is pine nuts.
Once again, red meat is one of the main sources. Tofu and edamame are good alternative sources of iron for vegetarian kids. The richest source among nuts is cashews, however, pistachios contain a good amount of iron too.
Providing kids with plenty of vitamin D is tricky because you can’t really get it through many foods. Cooked fish, fortified milk and egg yolks are foods kids will eat. But cod liver oil is what parents used to give kids for vitamin D. Today you can buy children’s cod liver oil with lemon or orange flavor, etc.
Fortified milk, or soymilk, and egg yolks are sources of what’s called preformed vitamin A – where the vitamin A is already in the form the body knows what to do with it. But there are also foods the body converts into vitamin A, such as Mango.
Carrots, and yellow and orange vegetables in general, as well as spinach are excellent sources of vitamin A.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Alaskan wild salmon is a really good source of omega-3 fatty acid – or other colored coldwater fish, like trout, for that matter. Flax meal, walnuts and pumpkin seeds all are good sources as well. You can buy omega-3 eggs (the chickens were fed with omega-3 rich seeds, sea weed or flax meal), but know that the omega-3 fatty acid sits only in the yolk, not in the egg white.