Macro- and Micronutrients in the Development of Food for Babies and Children
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Proper nutrition throughout infancy and childhood is vital as these life stages are characterized by many physical, mental and behavioral changes: rapid growth, weight gain, the development of cognitive and psychomotor skills, and a change in food preferences. Babies and children thus require small but adequate amounts of food to provide them with the energy and nutrients they need to meet their daily basic requirements. This chapter looks at macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) with respect to the minimum requirements of each nutrient for different age groups, and their bioavailability and stability, packaging; allergens, and flavoring agents. We discuss the importance of the common macronutrients and micronutrients in a child’s diet and how we can improve their provision. There is mounting evidence that diet quality is associated with cognitive functioning and academic performance in children, and that infant feeding practices directly affect growth during early life. It has been found that children with retarded growth and total energy deficiency refused up to 25% of the food provided to them. Thus, we also look at complementary feeding which employs food supplements such as water dispersible or crushable micronutrient tablets and fortified spreads. Diet quality rather than quantity is a key aspect of complementary foods, and this needs to be improved to ensure adequate nutrient delivery. We look at several aspects of common complementary foods such as the types available, packaging, flavoring, and differences between infant and adult foods. Malnutrition and the deficiency of certain nutrients lead to poor brain development and a weak body. We look at the effects of a lack of macro- and micronutrients in the diet and associated diseases. Finally, we explore the different forms of nutrient delivery to children and infants and focus on the sources and strategies used to improve fortified food processing methods.
KeywordsDeficiency Fortification Health Infants Macronutrients Supplements
We would thank Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore, for providing us with the facilities we required and the opportunity to work on this chapter.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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