HOW IMPORTANT IS PROTEIN FOR CHILDREN?

AUTHOR: Nicola Miethke (Naturopath and Nutritionist)

Adequate protein in our kids’ diet is essential for normal growth and development. It forms the structural basis of hair, skin, muscles, tendons and bone; as well as enzymes, hormones and even antibodies.

Protein is composed of molecules knows on amino acids, of which there are 22. Adults may be familiar with the fact that there are 9 essential amino acids which we have to get from food (our bodies cannot make them like the others) but children actually need 10! If one or more of these essential amino acids are deficient in their diet, their rate of protein synthesis is reduced and as a consequence can experience:

  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased muscle development
  • Slow wound healing
  • Fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Bone or join pain
  • Delayed growth rate
  • Lower immunity

 It’s therefore absolutely essential that our kids are getting a full suite of amino acids in the right quantity.

So how much protein do they actually need?

Protein intake should make up about 10-20% of their daily calories which can be easier said than done, particularly if you have a picky eater.

The exact amount is calculated depending on the child’s age or body weight. (I personally think bodyweight is more accurate as children vary hugely in size at the same age).

Age                  Minimum Daily Requirement of Protein* 
All

1-3yrs              14g/day (1.08 g/kg of body weight)
4-8yrs              20g/day (0.91 g/kg)

Girls

9-13yrs            35g/day (0.87 g/kg)
14-18yrs          45g/day (0.77 g/kg)

Boys

9-13rys            40g/day (0.94 g/kg)
14-18yrs          65g/day (0.99 g/kg)

 *as per government guidelines

What does this look like?

FoodAmount of protein
50g lentils4.5g
1 tbsp peanut butter5g
1 boiled egg6g
1 serve Nuzest Kids Good Stuff8g
50g cod9g
50g beef steak13g
50g chicken breast16g
1 serve Nuzest Clean Lean Protein20g

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