Protein rich food for kids

This blog discusses the importance of protein in children's diets and lists various protein-rich foods that are essential for their growth and development. It also explains the role of protein in building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and maintaining a strong immune system.

Did you know only 10% to 30% of children's energy intake needs to come from protein, with the rest provided by carbohydrates and fats?

Do you feed your child meals that are high in protein?

Why is it essential for children's diets to incorporate protein-rich foods?

What are the most significant protein sources for children?

What happens if children are denied protein-rich foods?

Like so many of us and adults are concerned about our own protein consumption, it's not surprising that we're concerned about whether our children are receiving enough. It's natural to be concerned about whether our children are getting enough protein, especially if they aren't big meat eaters or don't drink milk on a regular basis.

Let’s learn how much protein kids need and its benefits and the best kid-friendly Protein-rich sources!

What is Protein?

Protein is required for your child's body to grow and function properly, including the formation of new tissues and the production of antibodies that help in the fight against infections. Children would be far more susceptible to serious diseases if essential amino acids (protein building blocks) were not available. Protein provides the building blocks for muscle growth in children.

Recommended Intake of Protein

According to ICMR, recommended daily allowance (RDI) of Protein is

  • Lactating women (0-6 months) – 74 g/day

  • Lactating women (6-12 months) – 68 g/day

  • Infant (0-6 months) – 1.16 g/kg/day

  • Infant (6-12 months) - 1.69 g/kg/day

  • Child (1-3 years) - 1.69 g/kg/day

  • Child (4-6 years - 20.1 g/day

  • Child (6-9 years) - 29.5 g/day

  • Boy (10-12 years) - 39.9 g/day

  • Girl (10-12 years) - 40.4 g/day

Some Tips for Parents

  • Protein is important for muscle development and should not be overlooked

  • Allow children to choose their own portion sizes when it comes to meals

  • Kids are good at regulating their own eating habits

  • Provide enough protein for your growing child

  • Creativity in their diet can help meet daily protein requirements

Protein's Benefits for Children

When it comes to your child's growth and development, protein is unquestionably important. Some benefits of protein consumption for children are-

  • Cell growth: Protein aids in the growth and regeneration of cells, promoting healthy development.

  • Boosting immune system: Protein plays a key role in maintaining a strong immune system and fighting off infections.

  • Production of hemoglobin: Protein helps produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to cells throughout the body.

  • Promoting metabolism: Protein helps regulate metabolism, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption.

  • Energy source: Protein provides a source of energy for children, particularly when carbohydrates are lacking.

Protein as building blocks of life: Proteins are essential building blocks for the formation and repair of tissues, organs, and systems in the body.

Symptoms of Protein Deficiency in Kids

Kwashiorkor is a severe type of malnutrition caused by a lack of protein and essential nutrients in the diet. It's more prevalent in developing countries but can affect any malnourished child.

The signs and symptoms of kwashiorkor are-

  • an enlarged tummy

  • dry, brittle hair that tends to fall out easily and may end up losing its color

  • Inability to increase in height

  • Irritability or exhaustion

  • loss of muscle mass

  • Patches of red, inflamed skin that darken, peel, and split open

There are some other several signs that your child is not getting enough protein are

  • Growth rate that is slowed or stunted

  • Hungry (which may results in weight gain)

  • Lower immunity

Food sources

food sources

Animal, plant, or a combination of the two sources of protein can also be used to meet your child's daily protein requirements. Some Protein-rich foods are-

  • Eggs contain all essential amino acids and can be consumed as a snack or breakfast.

  • Meat and fish are beneficial for a healthy heart and building muscle mass.

  • Soybeans, soymilk, and tofu are high in protein and a good alternative for lactose-intolerant children.

  • Beans, lentils, and other legumes are readily available in the market and can be easily included in daily meals.

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are a good source of protein.

  • Cereals like quinoa and oats are also high in protein.

  • Nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, flaxseed, and sesame seeds are also rich in protein and can be included in snack boxes or as an ingredient in meals.

What Are Some Good Protein Sources for Picky Eaters?

  • Involve picky eaters in meal preparation and planning to increase their interest in food.

  • Provide healthy snacks one to two hours before meals to ensure that they are not too hungry to eat.

  • Start the day with a protein-rich breakfast to ensure they have enough energy throughout the day.

  • Make food more interesting by making high-protein desserts or including surprising elements in their diet.

  • Ensure that evening snacks are high in protein to meet their daily protein requirements.

Protein Powder and Children's Health

Children's Protein Powder

Protein supplements, such as protein powder, may be beneficial if your child is unable to get enough protein from whole foods. If any of the following apply to your child, he or she may require additional protein:

  • underweight

  • picky eater

  • incomplete intake of protein from vegan or vegetarian food

  • suffering from a metabolic disorder

Before adding any protein powders or supplements to your child's diet, always consult with their doctor.

Risk of consuming too much Protein Powders

  • Overconsumption of protein powder can harm your child's health by putting a metabolic strain on their organs.

  • High-protein diets may increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease and cancer.

  • Consuming too much protein powder can cause digestive problems like bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea.

  • Excess protein can lead to weight gain and associated health problems.

  • A high-protein diet may also cause kidney problems, including kidney stones and dehydration.

Is protein powder needed for my child?

Protein powder is generally not necessary for children, as the foods they eat usually provide enough protein. Unless there is a specific need, protein supplements are not recommended. Protein powder is not regulated, so parents may not always be aware of the ingredients.

Tips for preparing healthy meals for children:

  • Mix and match foods from various food groups

  • Include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein options, and milk and milk products

  • Have a variety of recipes for kids that include protein-rich foods to develop good eating habits

Consult with a pediatrician if your child shows symptoms of protein deficiency or if you plan to provide protein powder to your child.

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