Sunday, February 28, 2010

Calcium for Active Toddlers

When Maia turned one, her Pedia suggested that we start training her to cut down on her milk intake. From her usual 20-24 oz daily formula feeding, it was suggested that we start feeding her only 8-16 oz per day.

It would not have been that challenging if she took her milk directly from me. But there were just certain unavoidable events in our lives that didn't permit us to do that, even if we really, really wanted to.

As I too have been reading several articles on the cons of formula feeding I did not object to the doctor's advice. I was even more determined to do it since I too have been targeting of weaning Maia off formula milk by the time she's 18 months old. Yes, milk is a good source of calcium. But there are other sources of calcium out there. We just need to have the conviction to use them instead of cow's milk.

Dra. Chen also suggested that we use rice milk. But they are quite expensive and to date, I only found them at Healthy Options which isn't very convenient for me. I can make my own, but I don't trust myself enough to make a palatable version of the commercially available one.

The best option for me still, is to cut down on the formula and improve Maia's daily meals instead.

For toddlers 1 to 3 years old, the daily calcium requirement is 500 milligrams mg. As a guide, I made this list of calcium rich foods from babycenter.com:

  • 1/4 cup raw tofu, prepared with calcium sulfate: 217 mg (The calcium content of tofu varies, depending on how it's processed. Check the label.)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt: 207 mg
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses: 200 mg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat fruit yogurt: 122 to 192 mg
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice: 133 to 250 mg
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese: 167 mg
  • 1/2 cup milk: 150 mg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk: 144 mg
  • 1/2 ounce Swiss cheese: 112 mg
  • 1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt, soft serve: 102 mg
  • 1/2 ounce cheddar cheese: 102 mg
  • 1 slice calcium-fortified bread: 100 mg
  • 1/2 ounce mozzarella: 91 mg
  • 1/2 slice cheese pizza (fast food chain): 91 mg
  • 1/4 cup collard greens: 89 mg
  • 1/4 cup homemade pudding (from mix or scratch): 76 mg
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed butter): 64 mg
  • 1/4 cup turnip greens: 62 mg
  • 1 ounce canned pink salmon, solids with bone: 61 mg
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach: 60 mg
  • 1/2 cup ready-to-eat cereal, calcium fortified: 51 mg
  • 1/2 cup soy beverage, calcium fortified: 40 to 250 mg

In time, I'm hoping to be able to come up with a more comprehensive list and a weekly menu perhaps. It's a long way to go, but learning how much of this and that do toddlers her age need is definitely a start. I'm just happy too that the baby seems to be picking up now that milk isn't the only thing that would fill her tummy up.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good sources of vitamin E

Why vitamin E is important Vitamin E limits the production of free radicals, harmful molecules that can damage cells. It's important for immunity, DNA repair, and other metabolic processes. How much vitamin E does your child need? Ages 1 to 3 years: 6 milligrams (mg), or 9 IU, of vitamin E per day Ages 4 to 8 years: 7 mg, or 10.5 IU, per day Many children don't get enough vitamin E from diet alone, but your child doesn't have to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin E every day. Instead, aim for that amount as an average over the course of a few days or a week. Good sources of vitamin E Vitamin E can be found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Here are some of the best food sources of vitamin E: 1 ounce dry roasted almonds: 7 mg 1 teaspoon wheat germ oil: 6 mg 1 ounce dry roasted sunflower seeds: 6 mg 1 tablespoon almond butter: 4 mg 1 tablespoon sunflower seed butter: 4 mg 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter: 2 mg 1 ounce dry roasted peanuts: 2 mg 1 teaspoon sunflower oil: 1.8 mg 1 teaspoon safflower oil: 1.5 mg 1/2 medium kiwi (peeled): 1 mg 1 teaspoon corn oil: 0.6 mg 1/4 cup cooked frozen spinach: 0.8 mg 1/4 cup cooked frozen broccoli: 0 .6 mg 1 teaspoon soybean oil: 0.4 mg 1/4 cup raw mango: 0.9 mg The amount of vitamin E in a food will vary somewhat, depending on the size of the fruit or the brand of product, for instance. Note that nuts and seeds are choking hazards for very young children, and nut butters should be thinly spread for the same reason. Kids may eat more or less than the amounts of food shown, depending on their age and appetite. You can estimate the nutrient content accordingly. Can your child get too much vitamin E? It's far more likely that your child won't get enough of this vital nutrient. But because vitamin E can act as an anticoagulant, which increases the risk of bleeding problems, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set upper intake levels for vitamin E. (This is the maximum amount considered safe.) A 2- or 3-year-old child should get no more than 200 mg (or 300 IU) of vitamin E per day. A 4- to 8-year-old child should get no more than 300 mg (or 450 IU) of vitamin E per day.

Essential Fatty Acids

Why essential fatty acids are important Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are types of fat that are essential in the diet because they can't be produced by the body. These fats help build cells, regulate the nervous system, strengthen the cardiovascular system, build immunity, and help the body absorb nutrients. EFAs are vital for healthy brain function and vision. There are two families of EFAs: omega-6 (linoleic acid) and omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid). The body uses these short-chain fats to create long-chain fatty acids, which contribute to health in different ways, depending on their proportion. One of the long-chain fatty acids that the body can make from alpha-linolenic acid is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is critical to brain and eye development. This is why infant formula is fortified with DHA and why pregnant and breastfeeding women are encouraged to have DHA in their diet, either from a food source or a supplement. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is another omega-3 long-chain fatty acid made by the body that's present in breast milk. Like DHA, it's found in fatty fish. Several factors affect the production of DHA by the body, including the amount of omega-6 fat, saturated fat, and trans fat in the diet. An imbalance of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats can also have a negative effect on immune and inflammatory responses in the body. This is thought to contribute to illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. How much does your child need? Ages 1 to 3 years: 7,000 milligrams (mg), or 7.0 grams, per day of omega-6 and 700 mg (0.7 grams) per day of omega-3 Ages 4 to 8 years: 10,000 mg (10 grams) per day of omega-6 and 900 mg (0.9 grams) per day of omega-3 Omega-6 fats are usually plentiful in the diet, and it's likely you only need to focus on making sure your child is getting adequate omega-3s. (Many omega-6 fats come from processed foods that contain oils such as soybean oil.) Your child doesn't have to get the recommended daily amount of essential fatty acids every day. Instead, aim for that amount as an average over the course of a few days or a week. Good sources of essential fatty acids Kids may eat more or less than the amounts of food shown, given their age and appetite. You can estimate the nutrient content accordingly. Good sources of omega-3s include: 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil: 5,700 mg (not recommended for cooking but good for dressings) 1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground: 15,900 mg 1/4 cup English walnuts: 9,100 mg 1 tablespoon peanut butter, fortified with omega-3: 4,950 mg 1 teaspoon walnut oil: 2,380 mg 1 teaspoon wheat germ oil: 3,110 mg 1 teaspoon soybean oil: 2,270 mg 1 teaspoon canola oil: 870 mg 1 tablespoon wheat germ: 500 mg 1 omega-3 fortified egg: 100 mg Most of us get too much omega-6 (primarily from vegetable oils) and not enough omega-3. Choosing fats that are rich in omega-3 for food preparation will ensure your child gets enough. Just a teaspoon of canola oil, for instance, contains the omega-3 most children need in a day. (Note that nuts and seeds are not appropriate for very small children because they pose a choking hazard. For the same reason, nut butters should be thinly spread.) In general, omega-6 fats are more plentiful in the diet than omega-3 fats. In fact, your child will most likely get all the omega-6 fats he needs from processed foods that contain safflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils: 1 teaspoon safflower oil: 3,360 mg 1 teaspoon sunflower oil: 2,966 mg 1 teaspoon corn oil: 2,400 mg 1 teaspoon soybean oil: 2,300 mg DHA and EPA: Helping your child get enough While the body uses omega-3s to create DHA and EPA, there are food sources – mostly fish – that will help make sure your child gets enough. The Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board suggests that a 1- to 3-year-old child could have up to 70 mg of DHA and EPA combined, and a 4- to 8-year-old child could have up to 90 mg of DHA and EPA combined. Encourage your child to eat DHA-rich foods at least once a week. Some good sources of DHA to try: 1 ounce cooked herring: kippered, 334 mg; pickled, 155 mg 1 ounces cooked salmon: 186 to 413 mg, depending on type 1 ounce sardines: Atlantic, canned in oil, drained: 144 mg; Pacific, canned in tomato sauce, drained: 282 mg 1 ounce rainbow trout: wild, 147 mg; farmed, 232 mg; mixed species, 192 mg 1 ounce mackerel, canned: Atlantic, 198 mg; Jack, 226 mg 1 ounce barramundi: 174 mg 1 ounce pollock: Atlantic, 128 mg; walleye, 80 mg 1 DHA-fortified egg: about 100 to 150 mg (depending on the brand) Can your child get too much essential fatty acids? Yes, your child can get too much of either of the essential fatty acids, which can then cause an imbalance. It's best to get the right balance of fats by choosing mostly fats rich in omega-3 and by avoiding trans fats and saturated fats. Trans fats – often called "partially hydrogenated oils" on the label – are found in many fried foods (like French fries), baked goods (like cookies, pastries, pizza dough), and stick margarines and shortenings. Trans fats raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol and increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Saturated fats come mostly from animal sources like meat and dairy – fatty meats and lard, and cream, butter, and cheese. They're also found in baked and fried foods and some plant foods, like palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.

Good sources of iron

Good sources of iron Iron can be found in a variety of foods. Here are some of the best sources: 1/2 cup fortified, ready-to-eat cereal: 12 mg 1/2 cup fortified oatmeal, prepared with water: 5 mg 1/4 cup raw tofu: 2.22 mg (The iron content of tofu varies by type; check the label.) 1/4 cup soybeans: 2 mg 1/4 cup boiled lentils: 2 mg 1/4 cup baked beans with pork and tomato sauce: 2 mg 1/4 cup navy beans: 1 mg 1/4 cup kidney beans: 1 mg 1 ounce braised lean beef, chuck: 1 mg 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses: 1 mg 1/2 medium broiled hamburger (1.5 oz.), 95% lean: 1 mg 1/4 cup garbanzo beans: 1 mg 1/4 cup cooked frozen spinach: 0.9 mg 1/4 cup black beans: 0.9 mg 1/4 cup pinto beans: 0.9 mg 1 slice whole wheat bread: 0.9 mg 1/4 cup raisins: 0.7 mg

Best sources of Magnesium

The best sources of magnesium Nuts and legumes are some of the best sources of magnesium. Some magnesium-rich foods to try: 1 ounce dry roasted cashews: 75 mg 1 ounce dry roasted peanuts: 50 mg 1 tablespoon almond butter: 48 mg 1 tablespoon cashew butter: 41 mg 1/4 cup cooked soybeans: 37 mg 1/4 cup cooked spinach: 37 mg 1 ounce halibut: 30 mg 1/2 cup fortified instant oatmeal, prepared with water: 27 mg 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter: 25 mg 1 slice whole wheat bread: 25 mg 1/4 cup raisins: 25 mg 4 ounces ready-to-eat chocolate pudding: 24 mg 1/4 cup black-eyed peas: 22 mg 1/2 cup plain skim-milk yogurt: 22 mg 1/2 cup bran flakes: 26 mg 1/4 cup vegetarian baked beans: 20 mg 1/4 cup long-grain brown rice: 20 mg 1/4 cup lentils: 17 mg 1/4 cup pureed avocado: 17 mg 1/4 cup kidney or pinto beans: 17 mg 1/2 cup chocolate milk: 16 mg 1/2 medium banana: 15 mg 1/2 cup milk (low-fat or nonfat): 13.5 mg 1 teaspoon wheat bran: 7 mg 1 teaspoon wheat germ: 5 mg

Meal planning

Calcium: Builds strong bones and teeth, promotes healthy nerve and muscle function, helps blood clot, and helps the body convert food into energy. Essential fatty acids (EFAs): Help build cells, regulate the nervous system, strengthen the cardiovascular system, build immunity, and help the body absorb nutrients. Necessary for healthy brain function and vision. Iron: Important for making hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red pigment in blood, and myoglobin, a pigment that stores oxygen in muscles. Lack of iron can cause anemia, which can result in fatigue, weakness, and irritability. Magnesium: Keeps bones strong and the heart rhythm steady, supports the immune system, and helps maintain muscle and nerve function. Potassium: Works with sodium to control the body's water balance, which helps maintain blood pressure. Assists with muscle function and heart rhythm and, in later years, may reduce the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis. Vitamin A: Plays an important role in vision and bone growth; helps protect the body from infections; promotes the health and growth of cells and tissues in the body, including the hair, nails, and skin. Vitamin C: Helps form and repair red blood cells, bones, and tissues; helps keep your child's gums healthy and strengthens blood vessels, minimizing bruising; assists with healing, boosts the immune system, and keeps infections at bay. Also helps the body absorb iron from iron-rich foods. Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb minerals like calcium and builds strong teeth and bones. Essential for reaching growth potential and peak bone mass. Also functions as a hormone with roles in immune system health, insulin production, and regulation of cell growth. Vitamin E: Limits the production of free radicals, which can damage cells. Important for immunity, DNA repair, and other metabolic processes. Zinc: Needed by more than 70 enzymes that aid digestion and metabolism, and essential for growth.
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