A healthy, nutritious diet helps children grow and learn. It also helps prevent weight-related diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Children need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages. They need to eat three meals daily and have healthy snacks in between. The more active your child is, the more calories he or she needs. Here are some ways to encourage your child to follow a nutritious diet:



Sodium is an essential mineral for life. It is regulated in the body by the kidneys. It helps control the body’s fluid balance, affects muscle function and helps send nerve impulses. An Australian study showed the brain responds to sodium in the same way it responds to substances such as cocaine and heroin, which may explain why we tend to overindulge in high-sodium foods.



A balanced healthy diet should contain a variety of nutritious foods and sufficient vitamins and minerals. Such a diet can help you maintain a healthy body weight and reduce your risk of many diet-related problems, such type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It’s recommended men have around 2,500 calories a day and women 2,000 calories a day. Studies indicate eating a typical Western diet filled with packaged meals, takeout foods, processed meats and sugary snacks may lead to stress, high rates of depression....


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risk of death. The study concluded treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E may increase mortality.

Multivitamins are equally problematic. In October 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found women who took supplemental multivitamins died at higher rates than those who didn’t. Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer. Seven previous studies had already shown vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements.

There are a few vitamins and supplements that are actually helpful. Zinc, unlike vitamin C, has been shown to shorten a cold. The mineral seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs that cause the common cold. A 2011 review of studies found people who starting taking zinc when they initially got sick had shorter colds and less severe symptoms.

Folic acid is a B vitamin the body uses to make new cells. The National Institutes of Health recommends women who are currently pregnant or who want to get pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily because their bodies demand more of this key nutrient when they are growing a fetus. Additionally, several large studies have linked folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy to decreased rates of neural-tube defects, serious and life-threatening birth defects of the baby’s brain, spine or spinal cord.

According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 52 percent of Americans take dietary supplements – but should they?

Since the 1940s, study after study shows little evidence of any benefits gained from taking vitamins and supplements. They are not intended to replace foods because they cannot provide all the nutrients whole foods do. Whole foods are complex and contain many nutrients. Some vitamins, such as vitamin C, seem to work only when consumed naturally. Vitamin E does not work as efficiently when it is isolated, as opposed to how it performs in nuts and seeds containing other compounds that interact with it.

Some extra vitamin doses can actually increase the risks they are supposed to protect against, such as cancer or heart disease. A 2013 editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine asserts: “The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death. Their use is not justified and they should be avoided.”

There is a particular problem with antioxidants. In a healthy person, antioxidant supplements don’t seem to do any good and can actually cause harm. The constant interplay between electron acceptors (radicals) and donors (antioxidants) is a finely balanced, complicated



Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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biochemistry at the core of how living cells survive and grow. When there is too much of either acceptors or donors, the system is out of balance and damage can occur. People need free radicals to kill bacteria and eliminate new cancer cells. When you take large doses of antioxidants, the balance between free radical production and destruction might tip too much in one direction, causing an unnatural state in which the immune system is less able to kill harmful invaders. Therefore, extra antioxidants aren’t necessarily a good thing. Researchers have dubbed this “the antioxidant paradox.”

In the late 1980s, there were two beta carotene intervention trials with men at high risk for developing lung cancer – one in Seattle with men exposed to asbestos and another in Finland with smokers over the age of 50. The trial lasted 10 years. The beta carotene in the supplement in both trials was higher than what naturally occurs in the body. The researchers expected to see a lower lung cancer risk from the supplements. But the opposite happened in both trials and they had to be stopped early because the beta carotene group was suffering significantly more cases of lung cancer. The results showed antioxidant supplements of beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E all significantly increased risk of death. Vitamin C and selenium, which are not antioxidants, had no effect one way or the other on