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  • Top 8 Essential Nutrients for Babies (6 Months)

    Babies need a wide variety of nutrients for growth, but if you really have to prioritize, give them the Big Eight.
    by Charmaine dela Luna .
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    During your baby’s rapid growth period, her nutritional requirements are very high. Unlike when milk supplied her with all the necessary dietary substances, now that she’s eating solids you have to consciously provide her with the important nutrients.

    Don’t get overwhelmed trying to supply all the nutrients from A to Z. The World Health Organization identifies eight food-sourced nutrients that contribute most to baby’s optimal development. Some food sources for these nutrients may providentially also supply some of the less prioritized but still beneficial nutrients.

    1. Energy. Not a “nutrient” per se, this is derived from carbohydrates and fats, and gives your increasingly active youngster—you guessed it!—energy. Marasmus, or severe protein-energy malnutrition, results from deficiency in carbohydrates, according to Ruel Ramirez, MD, pediatrician at the Christian Medical Clinic in Quezon City.

    2. Protein. An important building block of muscles, cartilage, bones, skin, and even blood, protein is essential for the growth of every cell in the body. Aside from milk, protein-rich foods include eggs, meats, fish, nuts, and beans.

    3. Calcium. Not just for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth, calcium helps maintain the overall health of cells, muscles, nerves, and even aids in blood clotting. Get calcium from milk, yogurt, soy bean, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

    4. Iron. Crucial for baby’s normal development, iron keeps blood healthy, carries oxygen to all parts of the body, protects from infection and is important for brain development. Good sources include lean meats, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, whole-grain bread.

    5. Vitamin A. This fat-soluble vitamin maintains healthy vision, skin, hair, mucous membranes, and the immune system, plus helps protect from infections.

    6. Vitamin C. Protects teeth, bones, and capillaries, this antioxidant removes free radicals from the body, protects from infections, aids in the absorption of iron, and facilitates recovery from illnesses.

    7. B vitamins, especially folate. Best when working together as a team, the B vitamins keep the nervous system healthy, improve memory, blood circulation, and heart health, and help prevent appetite loss.

    8. Zinc. Boosts immune system to fight off disease, reduces incidents of diarrhea and pneumonia. It stimulates enzyme activity and DNA synthesis to promote growth, and helps maintain the senses of taste and smell.

    Aside from the maintenance of bodily functions and activity, and tissue deposition during baby’s rapid growth, nutrients in general are also valuable in preventing diseases, says Dr. Ramirez. While he doesn’t routinely prescribe supplements, he recognizes that in some cases it is necessary so as to avoid deficiencies.




    Photography by Jun Pinzon

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