Whether your child is a picky eater or not, ensuring he/she gets all the required nutrition in specified quantities everyday can be a big task. And considering good nutrition is absolutely essential for proper growth and development of your child, it is not something you can put in the back burner for a while. It is important to understand the Signs Of Nutritional Deficiency In Children. Even if you think your child is eating “fine”, watch out for these 10 signs of nutritional deficiency and make sure to include the respective nutrient in the diet.
Nutritional deficiency signs

10 Signs Of Nutritional Deficiency In Children

Here are 10 Signs Of Nutritional Deficiency In Children

1. Depression/anxiety:

Believe it or not, lack of protein-rich food can make your child depressed. Why? Because proteins contain amino acids and the brain uses these amino acids to develop neurotransmitters, which in turn makes us happy and calm. So a lack of complete protein could result in a depressed child. Find out more about depression in children here.

How to get amino acids:

Proteins from animal sources contain all required amino acids than the ones from plant sources. If your child is vegetarian and shows definitive symptoms of protein deficiency, it might be a good idea to consult a doctor to understand alternate sources or supplements for the child. In severe cases, specific amino acids may be prescribed to support your child’s body

2. Hyperactivity:

Yes, there might actually be a reason for all the restlessness your child is showing, and he is not able to process information that he is exposed to every second. His brain cannot remain calm in such a case. Research shows a strong correlation between hyperactivity and poor digestion. Poor digestion leads to your child’s body not absorbing all the nutrients he is eating.

How to combat hyperactivity in kids:

Stop all processed food and food with dyes. Add to the child’ diet foods that help in creating gut bacteria naturally and aid in digestion – like dahi, papaya and buttermilk

3. Lethargy:

Just like hyperactivity is a sign of bad nutrition, so is low energy level. Kids who have iron deficiency are known to lack stamina, to get tired easily and to be a bit vague.

How to combat lethargy in children:

Dried fruits, green leaves, meat, legumes, etc., are great sources of iron. Iron deficiency can further lead to other problems, hence you must pay close attention to iron in your child’s diet

4. Dry skin:

A deficiency of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K2) can result in dry skin and even dry hair. So if you find your child having dry, coarse skin and hair no matter what you do, you must add fat soluble vitamins in your child’s diet as below.

How to treat dry skin and hair in kids:

Add the following foods in the diet:

  • Carrot, fish, liver etc. for vitamin A
  • Cheese, egg yolk and foods fortified with vitamin D
  • Almonds, green leafy vegetables for vitamin E
  • High-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows for vitamin K2
  • Fermented cod liver oil is said to have all the above vitamins and can directly help in combating dry skin

5. Speech Delay:

Yes, this is another surprising symptom of nutritional deficiency. Children with vitamin B12 deficiency are observed to have a delay in speech (although speech delays could be as a result of other factors, including hereditary).

How to combat this:

Add foods rich in vitamin b12 (dairy products, eggs, fish, chicken, etc.) in your child’s diet. Natural options like these are better than B12 supplements. However, unless tested and prescribed by the doctor, never give Vitamin B12 supplements to your child. Read more about speech delay here

Signs of deficiency

6. Crowding of teeth or lack of dental spacing:

This can be as a result of heredity, but bad nutrition can also lead to poor dental spacing. It does not just impact kids who eat too much processed food, it also impacts kids whose mothers did not get good nutrition when pregnant.

How to combat this:

Cut processed food. Feed the kids more of natural, home cooked foods that are high in fats, carbohydrates and complete proteins. And remember, this starts off as soon as you get pregnant

7. Dental cavities:

Another dental problem that is linked to improper nutrition. We all quickly blame candies and sugar for dental cavities, but it is usually as a result of lack of minerals and fat soluble vitamins.

How to combat dental cavities in kids:

Foods with a good amount of minerals, especially phosphorus, like nuts, fish, cheese and other dairy products, apart from loads of fruits help in fighting cavities, apart from, of course, proper dental hygiene.

8. Low immunity / frequent colds:

A proper diet with balanced nutrition will help build a child’s immunity and a lack of it will lower the immunity and make him susceptible to catching diseases like cold frequently.

How to improve your child’s immunity:

Keep in mind almost all the other points mentioned in the article. Include a variety of foods – preferably organic and home cooked – in your child’s diet/ Find more about immunity boosting food for kids here.

9. Obesity:

This is another overlooked symptom. Clearly, if a child is obese, he is eating “too much” not “too little”? Wrong. If your child is not eating nutritious food, then the body becomes hungry for more as it has not got required nutrition. This will trigger hunger pangs and your child wants to eat again. If the food consumed again is not nutritious, then the same cycle continues. Find out ten tips to prevent obesity in children

How to combat obesity in kids:

Again, a highly nutritious home cooked meals with less or no processed elements are a solution for this

10. Crankiness:

Much like depression and anxiety, crankiness and mood swings could also be a result of improper nutrition, especially fats like Omega 3 that help with mood regulation.

How to combat crankiness in kids:

Foods rich in good saturated fats like nuts, butter and coconut oils have to be included in your child’s daily diet?

As parents, we try our best to provide our kids the best of everything. Hence, being a little cautious can help detect any nutritional deficiency your child may be suffering from, and take necessary steps.