The children in Canada are doing well when it comes to having their nutritional needs met.  Despite this a survey contacted by Health Canada in 2012 reveals that there is still room for improvement when it comes to certain nutrients.

SODIUM INTAKE

The daily intake for children of most ages still exceeds recommendations.  The problem is the sodium found in chips, frozen and canned foods and salty snacks.

Too much sodium has been linked to an increase for high blood pressure down the road.  We can fix this by eating fresh foods and snacking on fresh fruit, vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds and similar healthy snacks.

CALCIUM

Calcium was found to be 44 to 70 percent inadequate in girls ages 14-18.  Calcium is just not for bone and tooth health, it is also necessary for proper function of the muscles.  We can fix this by boosting calcium rich foods such as cooked greens (spinach, kale), nuts, and almond beverages as well as increasing dairy products such as organic yogurt and cheese. 

MAGNESIUM

Boys over 14 and girls over 9 years of age were found to have inadequate magnesium intake.  Magnesium plays many different roles in our bodies such as blood sugar regulation, muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation and the regulation of various proteins and hormones.  We can fix this by eating whole grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts and dairy foods.

VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is important for cell repair and healing, immune system function and proper growth of body tissues and maintaining healthy vision.  This was deficient in children age 9 and older, teenage girls being at the higher risk.  We can fix this by foods rich in beta carotene such as carrots, yams, pumpkins, squash and cooked greens.

SO WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN?

For the most part, Canadian children are meeting their nutritional needs through diet but a few key areas still need to have improvement.  The safest and most natural way to do this is to address these areas by adding the right foods into their diets.  Learn to read package labels and understand what you are looking at on these labels.  Check ingredient lists to see where sugar, sodium and bad fats are in the list.  These should be at the bottom not the top of the list.  Lastly, get the kids involve in making the decisions and preparing the food.

Gwen Cottingham, Registered Nutritionist, g.cottingham@hotmail.com 905-778-9998

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