I am writing this article as a sequel to my blog about vitamin supplements because I feel that mineral supplementation should also be a mindful exercise. The body uses certain components of the earth to perform many different functions. The macro mineral group is made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulphur and they are needed in significant amounts, alongwith trace amounts of other minerals (or microminerals) like iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.
Also Read: Do Children Need Vitamin Supplements?
What is tricky with minerals is that too much and too less are both detrimental. Sodium, chloride and potassium are needed to maintain fluid balance in the body’s cells and they bring about vibrance in nerve and muscle function.
- However, given the prevalence of packaged foods and snacks with preservatives, we need to today limit children’s sodium intake to reduce their risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases in adulthood.
- Chlorinated water and potassium (from bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, greens and legumes) maintain body fluid equilibrium. For example, muscle cramps on hot and humid days can be alleviated by eating potassium rich foods and adequate hydration. If your child is sick and eating little, these are well tolerated options.
Calcium supplementation helps in growth, nerve and muscle function and also builds bone strength, but is essential only during growth spurts (as in the infancy and adolescence) and is best taken along with Vitamin D.
- Otherwise, dairy products provide rich and absorbable sources of calcium, as do greens and legumes.
- Please encourage your adolescents to continue to drink milk.
- Unless there is an underlying chronic disease condition, calcium is not to be taken continuously.
Too much calcium can cause nausea, erratic bowels and kidney stones.
Iron deficiency, is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting more than 30% of the global population. Many studies have found that besides anaemia, perceptual, memory and behavioural related problems occur when iron is deficient in the growing years, and the effects on the brain are irreversible. This is probably because iron plays an important role in the development of the cells that produce a substance called “myelin” which forms a sheath of insulating tissue that surrounds nerve fibres.
Also Read: Why is Iron Important for Children
- It is recommended that iron is taken with folic acid (added to aid in the regenerative process during recovery) and that supplementation should be done daily for minimum of 100 days in the first two years of life.
- It is also helpful for adolescent girls at the onset of menstruation.
- Iron supplements are absorbed best when taken with a source of vitamin C, or on an empty stomach. They are absorbed poorly if taken with meals. Iron supplements should not be taken with milk or dairy products.
Also Read: Do Teen Daughters Need Supplements?