The Importance of Micronutrients in Infants and Toddlers

Micronutrients are the essential building blocks for the growth and development of infants and toddlers. Understanding what micronutrients are, how they are obtained through proper nutrition, and what parents and caregivers can do when food isn’t enough are ways to ensure that little ones reach their optimal health potential.

Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients

Macronutrients and micronutrients are the nutrients that aid our bodies in performing essential life processes like brain growth, bone formation, and immune system development.
Macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, must be ingested in large quantities, while micronutrients are required in smaller amounts.
Much like infants and toddlers, micronutrients are small but mighty. They are vitally important for ideal health outcomes and help to support normal growth and development in young children.

Types of Micronutrients

Each type of micronutrient plays a unique role in health maintenance and disease avoidance.

Water-soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins are not able to be stored in the body and, when taken in excess, they are excreted in the urine. To maintain adequate levels of water-soluble vitamins in infants and toddlers, a steady diet of foods that are rich in vitamin B and vitamin C should be considered.
They help to support energy production, immune system function, and collagen production in the skin, muscles, and fibrous tissue.
Vitamin B and vitamin C are superheroes that fight grime by aiding in the development of a robust immune system and keep our babies and tots active as they engage the world around them.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are not absorbed in water. They are stored in the liver and fatty tissue and are saved for future use, rather than being excreted when there is too much. This makes it easier to maintain adequate levels in infants and toddlers, with the bonus of creating one less thing for busy moms and dads to worry about!
Examples of fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K. They are powerhouses that help with vision, immune system development, blood clotting, and bone growth.
As our once idle infants start crawling and, before we know it, walking, running, and jumping, maintaining adequate levels of these powerhouses is essential to help their tiny bodies heal from any bumps and bruises gained along the way.

Macro Minerals and Trace Minerals

Macro minerals and trace minerals are micronutrients that perform specific functions inside the body and are required to be available in large and small quantities, respectively.
Teamwork makes the dream work, or in this case, makes vitamins and minerals even more effective at doing their jobs. For example, vitamin D and the macro mineral calcium work synergistically to support bone health, while vitamin C aids in the absorption of the trace mineral iron for proper oxygenation and hormone production.

Infants and Toddlers on Special Diets and Picky Eaters

It might prove difficult for infants and toddlers to meet the recommended daily allowance of micronutrients through food alone.
Young children are notoriously picky eaters, and when this is compounded with food allergies, dietary preferences, and restrictions, it’s normal for parents and caregivers to feel overwhelmed.
Start thinking about the foods that are mainstays in your child’s diet. Is there something that is missing? If so, and it can’t be provided through nutrition alone, supplements that provide those crucial minerals and vitamins might be necessary. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a Registered Dietitian to determine what the next best steps are.

Micronutrients are necessary for Healthy Infants and Toddlers

A diverse diet rich in micronutrients protects infants and toddlers from oxidative stress and disease while allowing them to achieve their optimal health potential. Young children require adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals to ensure their growing bodies meet developmental milestones.
Micronutrients can be obtained through fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and fortified food like cereal. If you’re concerned that your baby or toddler is not obtaining adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins through diet alone, talk to your pediatrician and consider adding a supplement to help them thrive.

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