Signs that your child could be ‘micronutrient deficient’

image005IS your child repeatedly showing signs of laziness or fatigue and getting poor grades in school? During classroom lectures, do teachers point to his lack of concentration or attention? You may spend hours guiding him in his homework, but if he or she still can’t focus or remember the things you say, it’s time to look much more closely to see where the problem lies.

Parents must refrain from scolding or just forcing their child to perform better. They must also avoid making careless conclusions, like saying their kid is lazy if he does not want to go to school or that he carries bad genes that were inherited or “namana” if he always gets poor grades. Their little one’s mental or physical shortcomings may already be signs that the child is suffering from health problems associated with Micronutrient Deficiency.

According to the 2008 National Nutrition Survey by the Food & Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), millions of Filipino kids suffer from Micronutrient Deficiency. Four out of five lack Iron in their daily diet, while one out of five lacks Zinc. Seven out of ten also lack Vitamin C. The agency cites these as the top three micronutrients that children fail to get from the food they eat.

According to Imelda Agdeppa, assistant scientist at FNRI-DOST, “Iron deficiency causes anemia in children over time, affecting body and brain functions that require iron-carrying red blood cells. This leads to panghihina that is due to lack of iron.”

“Lack of Zinc, meanwhile, causes stunted growth and lowers immune system, making kids sickly and prone to infections—laging may sakit kaya hindi nakakapasok sa school,” she continued. “Vitamin C cannot be produced by the body and must definitely be obtained through diet; otherwise kids also suffer from weak immune system, weak bone and muscle structure, and slow wound healing—madaling mahawa because of weak immune system.”

To address Micronutrient Deficiency, parents should give their kids the right kinds of food. Rich sources of iron include monggo, sweet potatoes, cashew nuts, soy/tofu products, watermelon, and raisins, among many others. Zinc is abundant in poultry, nuts, and beans like green peas, sitaw and Baguio beans. Meanwhile, fruits that are loaded with vitamin C are fruits like guava and papaya as well as dark green vegetables like mustasa and garden cress or talbos ng kangkong.

Food fortification is also among the solutions strongly advocated by Nestlé Philippines. “This process of adding more nutrients to food and beverages gives consumers nutritious options to include in their diet,” said Babylyn Cayabyab, the company’s nutrition adviser.

Willy de Ocampo Jr., Consumer Marketing Manager for BEAR BRAND Powdered Milk Drink, explained: “BEAR BRAND Powdered Milk Drink is fortified with Tibay Resistensya nutrients or may dagdag Iron, Zinc and Vitamin C to help fight Micronutrient Deficiency.”

“We are calling out to mothers, parents and teachers to be aware of the signs of Micronutrient Deficiencies,” he said. “By knowing these, you can provide solutions for your kids. Proper nutrition must be taken alongside drinking milk every day.”

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