Protein in a child’s diet: sources, role for the body

For proper development and growth, in addition to fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, the child needs protein. This is the main building material for a growing organism and its deficiency can lead to serious health problems, however, as well as its excess.

Role for a growing organism

Proteins are necessary not only for growth, they regulate metabolism, they are part of enzyme systems and antibodies. Some of them perform the functions of transport – hemoglobin carries oxygen, and transferrin carries iron. The proteins myosin and actin are structural elements of contractile muscles, and opsin is involved in visual functions. Deficiency is manifested in slow growth and development, and the risk of bacterial, viral and parasitic infections increases. Critically low consumption of low-protein foods leads to severe malnutrition.

Protein in the baby’s diet – milk

The first source is breast milk – a treasure trove of many important substances. Two types of protein in mother’s milk, casein and lactalbumin (whey), are completely absorbed by the baby’s body, contain many easily absorbed amino acids involved in the production of hormones, enzymes and brain neurotransmitters. Lactalbumin increases the absorption of calcium, zinc and copper and has antibacterial properties.

Casein is responsible for the feeling of “satiety”, regulates digestion and the activity of the nervous system. The first milk – colostrum, contains the largest amount of proteins (2.3 g / 100 ml), in the future, they decrease regardless of the mother’s nutrition (1.4 – 0.8 g / 100 ml). Milk formulas contain 1.3-1.5 g of protein per 100 ml of liquid, depending on the age of the child.

Animal and plant products

In the second half of life, nutrition expands, the need for proteins at this age is 9-11 g for boys and 8-10 g for girls. Animal and vegetable proteins differ in the number of amino acids, with the exception of soybeans, in which the content of these substances is complete, as in meat. The main “building blocks” of animal origin contain all the essential amino acids and have a high degree of absorption (about 96%). Plant origin, have an incomplete set and are absorbed worse – by 70-85%, but they remain valuable for maintaining the health of the child.

The best food source after 6 months is meat and eggs. Turkey and goose meat contains about 29 g of protein per 100 g, chicken – 27 g, beef – up to 26 g. Also a valuable source is fish – tuna, salmon, halibut and mackerel. It is also found in dairy products such as cheese, natural yogurt, kefir. Cow’s milk is given to a child only after a year, as it contains too much protein and mineral salts, which burdens the kidneys and disrupts metabolism. Vegetable proteins are found in large quantities in green peas and beans (6-7 g), broccoli (2.8 g). Cereal products contain 10 to 15 g.

Too much protein in a child’s diet¬†

Studies show that children aged 1 to 3 years on traditional and vegetarian diets receive excess proteins, which leads to the synthesis of toxic substances, beriberi (vitamins are involved in the absorption of protein) and excess weight.

Common causes of excess:

  • consumption of artificial milk is more than indicated by the manufacturer
  • a lot of cheeses and yogurts in the diet
  • daily consumption of meat, with the recommended 3-4 times a week
  • the introduction of new foods before the fifth month of life if the child is breastfed.

The most dangerous consequences of excess are the development of type 2 diabetes in adolescence, calcium leaching and the formation of kidney stones.