According to UNICEF, there are three essential micronutrients that play a vital role in a child’s growth development: vitamin A, iodine and iron. Unfortunately, it's this same trio that tops the list when it comes to nutrient deficiency in Pinoy kids, as revealed at the launch of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017 - 2022 by the Department of Health and the National Nutrition Council last May, CNN Philippines reported.
1. Vitamin A Vitamin A supports the body’s immune system functions. It’s needed to fight off diseases including those that can lead to severe complications like measles and pneumonia. According to WHO, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in young children.
Where your child can get it: The body cannot make vitamin A so a diet that's balanced, has variety and nutrition-packed can greatly lessen vitamin A deficiency. From the DOH, vitamin A-rich foods include:
fortified milk (the milk label should indicate this)
2. Iodine Iodine is essential to the thyroid gland, which regulates growth and metabolism. Iodine deficiency may cause a child not to reach his optimum brain growth potential. Fortunately, you can get iodine via your table salt.
Where your child can get it:
According to the DOH, iron deficiency “can be easily and economically be addressed through salt iodization. Salt was identified as the best medium for delivering iodine because most people have access and eat salt in small quantities every day, enough to achieve the required iodine intake.”
When buying table salt at the grocery store, make sure to check for the “Saktong Iodine Sa Asin” quality seal from the Food and Drug Administration and DOH. This way, you're assured that the salt contains the recommended added iodine.
3. Iron Anemia happens when the blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells, depriving the body of oxygen that it needs to function at full capacity. For the blood to make red blood cells, it needs iron. In children, iron deficiency anemia can manifest as what Pinoys describe as “matamlay” or lethargic. A child may seem tired or weak often, have low appetite, or be pale in complexion, according to KidsHealth.
Where your child can get it: For infants, the DOH recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond. For older children, iron-rich food should be a part of meals. These include meat and dark, green leafy vegetables like malunggay, gabi leaves, petchay, kangkong and kamote tops.