Meat contains vitamins and minerals that are important for growing children, but eating it every day is not necessary or even harmful. What are the important nutrients in meat and how much is recommended?
What nutrients are found in meat
Meat contains important vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins B1 and B12 and proteins. This list is especially important for a child as they are constantly growing and developing.
Protein provides the body with amino acids, the building blocks of protein in cells, while iron helps produce hemoglobin and red blood cells. Vitamins B1 and B12 contribute to the reduction of carbohydrates and the proper functioning of the heart and nervous system.
At what age can a child be offered meat
The recommended age is from six months, when the iron supply with which the baby was born is depleted. During acquaintance, it is necessary to monitor the reaction of a small organism in order to notice an allergic reaction in time. Do not give your baby raw meat, as it may contain bacteria (including Listeria) that cause stomach upset. Also avoid foods such as cooked sausages.
How much meat should a baby eat?
On average, the daily intake of meat for children is 50 grams for ages 1-8 years or 100 grams for 9-14 years. As you can see, in practice, one times more is consumed, which is not entirely correct for health. If the child is a vegetarian, you can replace this amount with vegetarian options such as legumes, nuts, and eggs.
Fish is also a healthy option, containing essential omega-3 fatty acids important for brain development in children. This substance is found exclusively in fish, so it is advisable that the child eat it every day on a sandwich or in any other form he likes.
What kind of meat can be given to children
As mentioned earlier, meat is not always healthy, it is better to make the right menu between meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian dishes. Below is an example of a varied menu that replaces meat with equally nutritious options:
Once a week:
- lean beef
Twice a week:
On other days, the child is offered chicken fillet, chicken drumstick and turkey fillet. Chicken fillet is perfect for bread, as well as slices of boiled vegetables or salad.
Processed meats include all meats that are not sold raw and have been prepared by salting, smoking, drying, curing, or other process to enhance flavor and/or extend their shelf life. Examples: ham, salami, bacon, smoked sausage. These products contain a lot of salt and fats that are harmful to the health of a person of any age, and are completely prohibited for children.
It is also not recommended to give children liver products, such as sausage or pâté. They are high in salt, saturated unhealthy fats, and vitamin A. The recommended daily intake of vitamin A for a child under 2 is 300 micrograms per day. The safe upper limit is a maximum of 800 micrograms per day. One sandwich with a spread of sausage already contains about 1200 mcg of this vitamin, so children under 4 years old should not be given this option.
If your child does not eat meat
Giving up meat shouldn’t be a tragedy for a child; on the contrary, there are health and environmental benefits. Red, and especially processed, can be harmful, usually an increased risk of diabetes, stroke, and other nasty diseases. Luckily, your child can eat healthy, lean foods without being deficient in protein.
Complete meat replacement is not a problem if you choose foods such as eggs, tofu, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils) or a vegetarian product that has added vitamins B1 and B12.
Iron is a nutrient that you can also find in vegetables, but the body absorbs it less than from animal products, the way out is vitamin C, which promotes the absorption of iron from any food, so it is recommended to eat fruits and vegetables during breakfast or lunch .
If you decide to feed your baby in a completely vegetarian way (without animal products), consult a nutritionist. Then the likelihood of a lack of iron and protein will be significantly reduced. The specialist will help you create a menu and make sure that the child receives all the nutrients.