Even though babies only need really small amounts of vitamins in their diet, they are vital to many of the processes within the body such as:
• The release of energy from foods
• The use of energy by muscles and other organs
• Protection of cells and tissues from the oxidative effects of free radicals (see ‘Antioxidants’)
You’ll find a healthy balanced diet contains everything your little one needs. One way to do this is to give them a daily diet made up of various colours of the rainbow – yellow for starchy foods, reds, greens, purples and oranges for vegetables and fruit, and brown for meats and/or legumes (beans and lentils).
If your baby is exclusively or even partially breast-fed, Health Canada recommends that they should have a daily Vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms. Please ask your health professional or pharmacist for advice.
Vitamin A helps build strong bones and teeth, supports night vision and aids healthy skin.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) releases energy from carbohydrate and aids normal growth.
Vitamins B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin) and B6 helps energy, metabolism and the formation of tissue.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects against the damage of free radicals, it also plays a part in building teeth, bones, cartilage and gums.
Vitamin D improves calcium and phosphorus absorption and helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect the fat in body tissues from oxidation.
Free radicals are unstable by-products of the chemical reactions in our body. They are a bit like little black spots which ping around the body causing damage to the surface of cells, proteins and DNA. Antioxidants are vitamins (Vitamin A, C, E) sometimes known as ACE and are the body’s superheroes – fighting the black dots.
Minerals and why your baby needs them
Minerals are split into two types, ones that we need in tiny amounts (trace elements) and ones that we need more of. Examples of trace elements are iron, zinc and selenium. The ones we need more of include calcium, phosphorus and sodium. Minerals have lots of different functions in the body.
Calcium & Phosphorous help build and maintain healthy bones and teeth
Iron helps build red blood cells (see Why your baby needs iron in the nutrition section of our Beginner stage)
Zinc is a factor in energy metabolism and tissue formation
Selenium helps protect against oxidative stress
Magnesium aids in energy metabolism, tissue formation and bone development