WELLNESS
03/22/2017 01:50 pm ET
PRESENTED BY WALGREENS

Without Essential Nutrients, A Child’s Body Struggles To Do These Things

A child’s first 1,000 days of life are crucial for lifelong health.

When our children get into cars, we make them buckle their seat belts. And when they learn to ride bikes, we teach them to wear helmets. But not everything that has to do with our children’s health and well-being is as easy to see as a helmet or as simple to reach for as a seatbelt.

In countries across the globe, in food deserts here in the U.S. and, even, in many of our homes, children are not getting proper nutrition. And the consequences are tremendous: adequate vitamin and mineral intake is essential for a child’s health and development, particularly in the first 1,000 days of life. An infant or a child with a nutrient deficiency may suffer long-term physical and cognitive effects and health risks.

To shed some light on this critical fact, and to remind us all of the value of a child’s nutrition, we partnered with Walgreens to underline some of the things a child’s body may be unable to do without access to adequate nutrients.

1. Heal A Skinned Knee

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Children are always on the go, and their energetic lifestyles can lead to some bumps, bruises and scraped knees. While most people know that vitamin C is crucial to the health of the immune system, many don’t realize the vital role this nutrient plays in healing an open wound. Low levels of vitamin C may delay wound healing, which can leave vitamin-deficient kids more susceptible to infection and illness, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

2. Cozy Up With A Book

Beyond promoting cognitive and intellectual development, reading helps children push their imaginations to the next level. But little ones with vitamin A deficiencies might have trouble making out the words and stories on the page. “Vitamin A is essential [in order] to keep your eyes healthy,” said Alexandra Briceno, a registered dietitian and owner of AB Family Nutrition in Doral, Florida.

Vitamin A deficiency is a serious nutritional problem in more than half the countries across the globe, most often affecting pregnant women and young children. Though it’s one of the most preventable causes of blindness in children, severe cases of a lack of vitamin A can lead to complete and permanent loss of vision.

3. Play Tag With Friends

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Tag, you’re it! You probably remember from your playground days that a good game of tag can last for hours at a time. But all of that chasing requires an abundance of energy just waiting to be burned. When a little one’s diet lacks the proper amount of B vitamins, it can be hard to keep up the chase for long. B vitamins ― specifically vitamin B12 ― help the body convert food into fuel. Kids with low levels of vitamin B12 might experience symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath, which can turn even the most exciting playground game into an exhausting chore.

4. Recover From A Broken Bone

Sometimes a kid’s playful stumbles can lead to more serious injuries, like a broken arm or leg. While a healthy child’s body can heal a broken bone with relative ease, children who suffer from a lack of vitamin D may find that their bones take longer to heal and break more easily.

Bone health is of utmost importance to children, not only because they are growing, but also because they are so active,” said Andy De Santis, a registered dietitian in Toronto. “Dietary inadequacy in vitamin D may increase an active child’s risk of bone-related injuries such as fractures and breaks.”

Dietitian Rene Ficek, the lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, agreed that calcium and vitamin D are imperative to a growing child’s health. “Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to low calcium, leading to rickets in children in which the bones become soft and misshapen.”

5. Slam Dunk A Basketball

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You have to be pretty tall to make a shot that’s nothing but net. And while there is some truth in the belief that genetics affects height, it’s also true that environmental factors ― including nutrition ― play a big role. Poor maternal health and nutrition, as well as inadequate childhood nutrition, impacts a child’s early growth and development, beginning in utero. A lack of iron in childhood can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which includes symptoms like chronic headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue and overall weakness of the body. Many iron-rich foods are also rich in vitamin K, such as fresh, leafy greens like spinach and kale; and those vegetables can be to come by in many underdeveloped parts of the world.

Right now, millions of families around the world need help providing their children with the nutrients they need to flourish. Every time you buy vitamins at Walgreens, you can help provide a child a life-changing vitamin they need to grow, learn and make a difference through Vitamin Angels.* Get vitamins here. Change lives everywhere.”

*Walgreens will donate 1 percent of participating products’ retail sales made through 12/31/17 to Vitamin Angels.

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