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The 4 most common deficiencies in children

1. Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace mineral involved in many functions in the body. It affects normal growth and development, involved in taste, smell and appetite regulation, synthesizes male hormones.

Signs of zinc deficiency can be anxiety, OCD, ADHD, frequent infections, picky eaters, irritability, depression, poor wound healing, increased intestinal permeability, eczema, dry skin, acne, low weight, sensitivity to noise, poor vision, and decreased immunity.

Zinc rich foods are pumpkin seeds, beans, beef, sesame seeds, lentils, eggs, cashews, quinoa.

Best forms of supplementation that are easily absorbed can be zinc citrate, zinc picolinate and zinc sulphate. Take away from iron as this will impede its absorption. Other factors impeding the absorption of zinc can be insufficient stomach acid, excess sugar intake, gut inflammation and allergies.

2. Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral required for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It supports healthy mood, focus, and sleep, muscle relaxation, regulates blood sugar metabolism, regulates calcium and potassium. 60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones.

Signs of a magnesium deficiency can be migraine headaches, anxiety, asthma, constipation, muscle cramps and weakness, sleeplessness, fatigue.

Magnesium rich foods are pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, soy beans, quinoa, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, avocadoes, bananas.

Best forms of supplementation are magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate. Magnesium oxide is the least absorbed and has a laxative effect.

3. Iron

Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in children. It is an essential component of haemoglobin- the oxygen carrying component of the red blood cells.

Signs of an iron deficiency can be weakness, fatigue, poor growth, developmental delays, cold, craving to eat ice- pica, poor concentration, lower cognitive test results, slower visual and ausitory processing, heavy periods, nosebleeds, irritability, breathlessness, restless legs, pale skin, dark circles under eyes, spoon shaped nails.

Iron rich foods are liver, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, beef, blackstrap molasses, lentils. Animal sources contain heme iron which is more readily bsorbed than non heme iron, found in plant sources. Cooking with a cast iron skillet can support iron levels. Drinking a lot of cows milk can impede iron absorption and lead to iron deficiency.

Best forms of supplementation is bisglycinate- it is gentler than other forms, easily absorbed and minimizes gastrointestinal symptoms. Teenage girls may find supplementation can improve cognitive function, improve energy, improve concentration and mood.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is actually a hormone. It promotes calcium absorption, regulates calcium and phosphate, regulates immune function, bone mineralization, reduces inflammation, affects brain function and development.

Signs of a Vitamin D deficiency can be frequent illnesses, food allergies, ADHD, anxiety, depression, frequent or easy fractures, eczema, asthma.

Best sources of vitamin D are sunlight. Vitamin D from the sun gets converted by the liver and then the kidneys into the physiological form of Vitamin D. Food sources are cod liver oil, fatty fish, dairy, eggs, caviar, mushrooms.

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