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Nutrients that help protect the baby

Nutrients that help protect the baby

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As you introduce new foods to your baby’s diet during weaning, you also have to be sure about the quality of the foods. Your baby’s complimentary foods should have protective-nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, B6; and minerals like zinc and iron. These protect her from within i.e. helps to build immunity and keep her healthy.

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Here is a brief discussion about the various nutrients required to protect your baby and some of their sources.

  • Iron:
    • It helps in the formation of red blood cells and carries oxygen in the body.
    • Iron deficiency leads to reduced oxygen carrying capacity and thus makes your baby more prone to infections.
    • Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, meat, eggs, dried fruits, fortified cereals, jaggery, etc. 
  • Vitamin A:
    • It provides immunity and is also good for eyesight.
    • Sources: Carrots, spinach, papaya, tomatoes, egg, milk, and meat.
  • Vitamin E:
    • It has antioxidant properties.
    • Its deficiency leads to impaired immune functions.
    • Food Sources: Nuts, seeds and vegetable oils are among the best sources of vitamin E. Significant amounts are available in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals.
  • Zinc:
    • Zinc affects several immune mechanisms and regulates the body’s resistance to different pathogens.
    • Its deficiency in infants may lead to impaired immunity and increased susceptibility to infections.
    • Food Sources: Beans, nuts, red meat and poultry, certain types of seafood (such as crab and lobster) and whole grains like cereals, brown rice.
  • Vitamin B6: 
    • It is essential for the effective functioning of the immune system, nervous system, and red blood cells.
    • Its deficiency can decrease antibody production and suppress the immune response.
    • Food Sources: Eggs, beans, fish, legumes, whole cereal grains, meat, and liver.
  • Vitamin C:
    • Vitamin C is very important for healthy teeth and bones. It also aids in the absorption of iron by the body.
    • It helps boost your baby’s immune system to resist infections and helps in iron absorption.
    • Food Sources: Amla, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, and sprouts.

Your baby’s plate should have a well-balanced blend of all the nutrients required for her growth, development, and protection from infections. This will ensure her with a supply of the required nutrients to help support her during her growing days.

Remember that as your baby grows, her nutritional needs increase. After 6 months of age, breast milk alone cannot fulfill the increasing nutritional needs of your baby. Therefore, by 4-6 months of age, introduce her to semi-solid foods (only after consultation with your pediatrician) that contain all the essential nutrients, but continue to breastfeed her up to two years of age or beyond (consult your pediatrician for further details). Traditionally prepared foods are usually made of only staples such as rice or regular family diet with/without small quantities of pulses, fruits, or non-vegetarian foods and therefore may not provide all the essential micronutrients in required amount. Introducing fortified cereals can help ensure that your baby receives all the important micronutrients in appropriate amounts. The micronutrients in the fortified cereals may support her growth and development as part of balanced daily diet.

Learn more about why fortified foods are essential for your baby

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