In a survey undertaken by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), many Filipino preschool children are found to be at risk of nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin A deficiency (VAD), iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) due to economic reason. Thus, as a general rule, until the diets of these Filipino children improve and food fortification is universal, there is a need for nutritional supplements to prevent these deficiencies.
While foods are still the best sources of nutrients, there may be instances when your child needs to take supplements – to add more nutrients to an unbalanced diet. As outlined in the Daily Nutritional Guide Pyramid for Children, supplements are needed if your child shows signs of specific nutrient deficiency and is not eating a variety of foods.
Results of studies showed that vitamin A supplementation does not only prevent VAD but also lowers child mortality in high-risk areas. Iron supplements not only prevent anemia but also lowers the risk to infection, decreasing the risk to morbidity and mortality and improving mental performance.
On the other hand, as long as the child is eating an adequate balanced diet and is unconstrained by illness or economic factors, there is no real need for nutritional supplements.
As a parent, your primary obligation is to help your child grow and develop his optimal potential. You can achieve this by giving him meals and snacks that meet his nutrient and developmental needs. Variety in daily meals helps your child get used to the different tastes, textures and appearance of foods.
The “Daily Nutritional Guide Pyramid for Filipino Children” developed by the FNRI-DOST. For example, can be served to a six year-old child:
Two to four and one-half (2 – 4 1/2) servings a day of rice, rice products, corn, root crops, bread, or noodles. Choose whole grains for extra fiber. One serving is equal to one cup o rice, or four slices of loaf bread, or two slices puto, or five pieces small pandesal, or one cup corn, or two cups noodles, or one cup cooked rootcrops.
One-third to one-half (1/3 – 1/2) serving a day of green leafy vegetables and other vegetables. One serving of vegetable is equal to 1/2 cup cooked. (From an FNRI article written by Ma. Idelia G. Glorioso)