How Healthy Eating Helps Kids Succeed

Eating fresh vegetables, fruits, and other good food isn’t just healthy— it’s also smart. Good nutrition is vital for your child’s mental, physical, and emotional growth and development. Nutritious food really is “brain food”— studies show that early good nutrition is linked to school readiness and success. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first six months of life or longer

Nutritious eating is smart in other ways, too. A balanced diet helps achieve a healthy weight and combat early obesity, lowering risks for heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Healthy eating habits start at birth: breastfeeding nourishes your baby and protects him from illnesses. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first six months of life or longer, as solid food is introduced. 

What, exactly, is “healthy” food? In celebration of National Nutrition Month in March, here’s a quick rundown of the nutrients your child needs to grow strong: 

  • Vitamin A helps eyes, skin and the immune system stay healthy. Vitamin A is found in dairy products, eggs, leafy green vegetables, and yellow/ orange vegetables like carrots, squash and yams. 
  • B Vitamins build healthy nervous and circulatory systems, and are found in meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans and soybeans (including tofu). 
  • Vitamin C helps build healthy muscles and skin. Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes and green vegetables—broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and others—are good sources of Vitamin C. 
  • Calcium builds strong bones and is found in dairy products, dark leafy greens and tofu. 
  • Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, building strong bones and teeth. Spending time in sunlight brings Vitamin D into the body; oily fish like salmon, dairy products, tofu and mushrooms are also good sources. 
  • Iron builds muscle and healthy red blood cells. Soybeans (including tofu), spinach, lentils, red meats, turkey, pork, beans and molasses are good iron sources. 

The WIC Nutritional Program now incorporates fruits and vegetables to make eating healthy even easier. 

Do Kids Need Vitamin Supplements? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants and children may need Vitamin D and iron supplements. Talk to your baby’s doctor about what he or she needs. 

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