Calcium and Zinc for Baby Health
Calcium is a mineral needed for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Ninety-nine per cent of the body's calcium content is found in bones and teeth, with one per cent in blood plasma and soft tissues. But calcium is needed during the first year of your baby's life to help with the normal function of all cells as well as for bone and teeth development.
Your baby should quite easily be able to get sufficient calcium if he eats a good range of dairy produce and other calcium-rich foods.
Key Calcium Foods
• The primary source of calcium in the diet is full-fat dairy produce: cow's milk, cheese or yogurt or their calcium-enriched soya alternatives.
• Finely ground nuts, such as hazelnuts and almonds (do not give nuts to babies if there is a family history of food allergies).
• Sardines canned in oil
• Sesame seeds
• Green leafy salads, such as spinach
• Green vegetables, such as broccoli
• Puréed or finely chopped dried fruits, such as dried unsulphured apricots
The mineral zinc has many functions in your baby's body. These include maintaining a healthy immune system and assisting in growth. Zinc deficiency may limit your baby's growth. If your baby is vegetarian, be careful not to feed him too many wholemeal foods because they can adversely affect the absorption of this mineral. Try to feed him low-fibre foods.
A significant number of babies under the age of 12 months do not achieve the recommended daily level of this nutrient from their diet. Meat and meat products are the richest sources of zinc, but these foods contribute only 10 per cent of the dietary zinc intake, so make sure your baby's diet includes other good sources.
Key Zinc Foods
• Sardines in oil
• Red meat, such as beef
• Full-fat Cheddar cheese
Good Vegetarian Zinc Sources Include:
• Wholegrain bread and cereals
• Brown rice
• Finely ground nuts and seeds, such as peanut butter, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds (do not give nuts to babies if there is a family history of food allergies).
• Pulses, such as lentils
• Fresh peas
• Pureed or finely chopped dried, unsulphured apricots