Recommended Nutrition for Kids

Kids in their growing years need all the help they can get, especially good nutrition, to support their development. Children need the same types of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats as adults do. But what is the best combination? What should children eat more of?

Here is a quick look at the recommended nutrition rates for kids.1


Counting the Calories

Counting calories is not just a popularized action in dieting for adults, but is also appropriate for children. It differs by age, gender, ethnicity, cultural practices, physicality, and environment (Tropical, Desert, Polar, Urban, Metro, Rural, etc.). From very young to about early teens, children need around 900 to 1800 calories or more a day respectively. It can even go up to 2600 calories a day. These calories should come from fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and sugars.2, 3 


Serving Size

The key to a good diet for a child is to fill them up on nutrient dense food items so they would not want ones with empty calories. The maximum serving will depend on the individual needs of a child, but here are the minimal servings of each food group.2, 3


Fruits: At Least 2 servings (1 to 2 ½ cups) per day. This is where your child will get a good amount of Vitamin A, C, Potassium, and fiber. This can include natural fruit juices or purees.2, 3


Vegetables: Key in the variety, at least 3 servings (1 to 3 ½ cups) of a mix of dark, colored, legumes, roots, and others. This is the alternative source of similar vitamins and minerals that you get from fruits.2, 3


Grains: The bulk of meals in a day and where a child should get their carbohydrates, serve about up to 6 servings (¼ cup to 1 ¼ cups) per day. If possible, provide only whole grains (whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice, millet). You can serve refined grains, but should be no more than half the daily serving and are of enriched variety (Vitamin B or Folic Acid, Fiber and Iron are processed back in).2, 3


Dairy: For Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and some Protein to keep up growth and development, provide at least 2 to 3 servings (2 cups to 3 cups) per day. This does not have to be pure milk, but can include yogurt, cheese, soy or nut products and fortified foods.2, 3


Protein: Choice of seafood, lean meats, poultry, or vegetarian counterparts, serve at least 2 servings (56 grams to 142 grams) per day. Protein is very important for muscle health, brain health, and also part of satiety for the day. With these sources of protein, your child will get Iron, Zinc, and some B Vitamins.2, 3


Things to Limit

Sugars, sodium, oils, and other fats are not necessarily bad, you just have to limit them as much as possible. Oils, including cooking, should not be more than 27 grams of oil per day. It may have to go down to as low as ⅙ of serving per day the younger the child is. Saturated or Trans Fats and excessive Sodium come mostly from processed animal products and most packaged or fried items so make the choice with lean, fresh, steamed, baked or boiled options. An easy way to avoid these is to read food labels and have a nutritional value list on hand.2, 3