Omega-3 fatty acids
A review of the available evidence comparing the nutritional composition of standard and organic dairy produce, which was published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2012, found that organic milk and related products contained significantly more omega-3 fatty acids. Although you might associate omega-3s more commonly with oily fish such as herring, mackerel and salmon, cows fed on grass in the pasture produce milk and meat that naturally contains more of these essential fatty acids than cows fed grain. Most people in the US, including children, do not meet the recommended intake for omega-3s, largely because we donít eat sufficient fish in our diet. Opting for organic dairy produce and meat is a useful way to top up our intake of these essential oils, which are important for eye and brain development in young children and will also help to protect their circulation from a young age.
The iron content of organic fruit and vegetables is typically at least 20% higher than that found in non-organic produce. This is significant when you consider that despite strategies to fortify foods in our diet, 14% of children aged one to two years and 4% of those between three and five years have iron deficiency anemia. Developing anemia during this time in a childís life doesnít just leave them extremely tired, but also has an impact on both their physical and mental development. While red meat provides a rich source of iron, as not everyone eats meat, providing your children with organic fruit and vegetables may be one way to boost their iron intake; green leafy vegetables, peas, beans and dried fruit are those with the highest iron content, with organic versions likely offering greater benefits.
Magnesium and phosphorus
These two minerals are also more concentrated in organic produce and share a number of similar roles in the body. Although calcium is most commonly thought of as the main micronutrient needed to promote bone growth and strength, a range of other vitamins and minerals are also important, which include magnesium and phosphorus. Childhood is the crucial time when we lay down a large proportion of our bone mass, which we want to maximize to reduce our risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life, so it is vital that we provide our children with foods rich in all the micronutrients that enhance bone density. These minerals also play a role in metabolism to allow the efficient release of energy from food to fuel all their activities and growth, as well as aiding tissue repair, with cuts, sprains and broken bones an inevitable result of childhood play and participation in sport. Choose organic green leafy vegetables, peas and beans to improve your kidsí intake of magnesium, while organic meat, dairy produce and eggs are the best bet to up their phosphorus levels.
Organic produce typically has a vitamin C content that is around a quarter greater than non-organic versions of the same fruit and vegetables. Around 7% of the US population have a deficiency of this vitamin and it is particularly common with decreasing socioeconomic status; while organic produce is often seen as an expensive option, this is not necessarily the case, particularly if you buy from local producers and can offer a cost-effective way to boost vitamin C intake. This is beneficial as vitamin C is essential for the production of the protein collagen, which accounts for around a third of proteins in the body and is present in the likes of muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones, so this vitamin indirectly aids growth. When available choose organic versions of citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, peppers and green vegetables to maximize your childrenís intake of vitamin C.
By guest author: Claire Navarro.