10 Signs of Nutritional Deficiencies in Children

10 Signs of Nutritional Deficiencies in Children When I first became a mom, I was completely overwhelmed. 

After the nurse left, the euphoria of delivery was gone, I looked at this little being I had just pushed out of my body and thought,

“Oh CRAP!”

I instantly thought of all the ways he could possibly get hurt and/or die and went into “new mom freak out mode.” I micromanaged every little thing about my son’s care and found myself stressing about every little thing. I remember wondering if I was going to be this worried for the entire 18 years that I was responsible for him. I assured myself that I was only feeling this way because he was in the “infant stage”. I was sure when he reached, I don’t know, 2 or 3 years old, I wouldn’t worry so much.

How naive I was to think there would be a time when I’d stop worrying about my son! He’s 10 now, and I still worry about all aspects of his life and hope I’m doing the best for him. 

We want the best for our kids, right?

As parents, we do everything we can to provide a good, healthy environment for our kids. Sometimes though, even with our best efforts, our children can suffer from nutritional deficiencies. I’ve experienced this myself. I don’t blame myself or feel guilty. I just try to learn and do better. I can’t be perfect, but for the sake of my children, I can keep an open mind and try to change some things in our diet to help my kids perform at their best.

Many of the following signs are labeled as “genetic” or pre-determined. But I believe that although we are born with certain tendencies, our nutrition throughout our lives can determine whether they will manifest themselves or not. 

10 Signs of Nutritional Deficiencies in Children

1. Depression/Anxiety 

Depression and anxiety all starts in the brain, and can be brought on by nutritional deficiencies. Protein, for example, contains amino acids. Most protein from plants contain an incomplete number of amino acids. Protein from animal foods are more likely to contain all amino acids and they are more easily absorbed by the body.

Why are amino acids so important? Well, the brain uses amino acids to create neurotransmitters. Ever heard of Serotonin, Endorphins, Catecholemines, and GABA? A proper balance of these neurotransmitters helps to keep us feeling happy and calm instead of depressed and anxious. A diet with a good amount of complete protein is the answer to correcting this nutritional imbalance. We don’t count protein, or even try to eat high protein, but we do eat whole meat with cuts that include fat and make broth out of the bones to give ourselves a good dose of gelatin (another good source of protein). For severe cases, you may need to supplement directly with specific amino acids to help support the body. You can take a test here to determine which amino acids you may be deficient in.

2. Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is related to the brains ability to process information and remain calm at the same time. Children with hyperactivity tend to have poor bacterial flora and digestion. This can make it hard for the body to absorb many different nutrients. Some doctors will recommend removing processed food along with food dyes to help combat hyperactivity. While I agree that these recommendations are a good start, hyperactivity is often a problem with digestion. I would recommend that adding some good digestive natural treatments will help. Besides eating a good amount of gelatin and broths, a good gut healing protocol involves a good source of homemade probiotics.

3. Delayed Speech

Delayed speech can be related to a deficiency in B12. Children shouldn’t be supplemented with B12 unless first tested for a deficiency, but an increase of natural foods of B12 is a good alternative to supplementation. Foods high in B12 are organ meats, beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, pork, dairy, and eggs. There are no plant/grain sources of B12. 

4. Dry Skin/Hair

Dry skin and hair can be related to a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K2. My own daughter suffered from this as well. Her hair was dry and coarse no matter what we did. When I finally added some high quality fat-soluble vitamins to her diet, her hair became shiny and her skin became soft. I chose to supplement with Fermented Cod Liver oil. We purchase the cinnamon flavor and she takes a 1/2 tsp. a day without any fuss. You can find fermented cod liver oil here.

5. Crowding of teeth

This is a sore subject for a lot of people, because honestly, nobody wants to feel responsible for their child’s crowding of teeth. However, the relationship between crowded teeth and nutritional deficiencies is well-recorded in Dr. Weston A. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. His travels around the world, visiting traditional cultures untouched by modern foods, helped him discover the link between good dental spacing and good nutrition. He found that even twins who ate different foods developed different dental spacing depending on the foods they ate. Those who ate modern, processed foods or whose mothers ate poorly during pregnancy, had children who developed poor dental structure and spacing. Those who ate a traditional diet full of rich fats, complete animal proteins, and properly prepared carbs across the board developed even spacing of teeth and even had enough room for wisdom teeth.

6. Cavities

Cavities are often thought to be from a result of too much sugar or candy in the diet. While this certainly doesn’t help, it’s not so much about the sugar the person is eating and more about what the person is NOT eating. Dr. Price found that those with cavities were mostly likely to be deficient in proper minerals, and also deficient in fat soluble vitamins needed to absorb and assimilate the minerals. Conversely, Dr. Price found that those who were not deficient had no cavities.

All groups having a liberal supply of minerals particularly phosphorus, and a liberal supply of fat-soluble activators, had 100 per cent immunity to dental caries. – Dr. Weston A. Price

My kids have a few cavities that we are healing naturally with this protocol here.

7. Frequent colds and flus

We used to get sick all the time, but once we changed our diets, we noticed changes in our health as well. I noticed that my kids had a higher immunity, and could play around other kids who were sick without getting sick themselves. If your kids are getting sick frequently, again, instead of focusing on one specific nutritional deficiency, try adopting some of the practices of our family here. A good diet is always going to be the best prevention for sickness. I would also encourage you to move away from the germ-a-phobia lifestyle and embrace dirt a bit:)

8. Cranky or sporadic emotions

Julia Ross from The Mood Cure, points out that fats (especially Omega 3s found in wild salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, and mackerel) are vital for good mood stabilization. She also states that good saturated fats from butter and coconut oil help keep and protect the Omega 3s in our brain. I would also add that hormones need to be balanced as well. Did you know that carrots help absorb any extra estrogen in the body? A high amount of estrogen in the body can make us feel irritable and moody. I am sure to have my kids eat a carrot a day to help balance their hormones naturally. 

9. Poor cranial structure or “flat-head” syndrome

This one also links back to Dr. Weston A. Price’s research. He found that the development of the palate (teeth crowding) as well as the development of the cranial bones were greatly improves when the mother ate a diet high in good fats (including rich saturated fats from animal products), whole proteins from seafood/animal meat, and properly prepared grains. Vegetables and fruits were also included in these diets depending on what was available during the season, but fats and animal foods were especially held sacred and given to pregnant and nursing mothers. Those who avoided processed food (including seed and vegetable oils, canned, and packaged food) were immune to this problem.

10. Obesity

You wouldn’t think that obesity is related to malnutrition but it is exactly why they person is obese. When we eat foods that aren’t nutrient dense, our bodies are hungry. They become starved for good nutrition and that’s why you won’t feel satisfied when eating highly processed foods and/or foods devoid of nutrients. Our bodies were meant to feel satisfied with a balance of all foods, including seafood, animal products, raw milk, cheese, butter, coconut oil, fruits, vegetables, and properly prepared grains. When we sway from this diet and start to eat more processed food, or restrict any macronutrient like fat, carbohydrates, or protein, that is where we start to become malnourished. 

So what can we do as parents as we try to improve the health of our children?

I’m definitely not a perfect parent and my children don’t have perfect health, but I do know that we have drastically improved our health by turning away from processed food and satisfying our bodies with real food. It’s really an amazing thing when you can eat food that is nutrient-rich AND delicious. 

When it comes to making sure my kids are healthy, I focus on the following:

  • Preparing real food by cooking from scratch most of the time and limiting the amount of processed food our family eats.
  • Making sure my kids get plenty of daily outdoor exercise. (This happens naturally when you live on a farm ;)
  • Boosting their immune system, helping them sleep deeply, caring for cuts, scrapes, & bug bites, & making non-toxic cleaning & body products with our stash of essential oils.

What ways have you found to improve your child’s health?

10 Signs of Nutritional Deficiencies in Children

Sources:

http://www.moodcure.com/good_mood_foods.html

http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-up-reviews/gut-and-psychology-syndrome

http://realfoodforager.com/the-meat-of-b12-deficiency-interview-with-sally-m-pacholok-r-n-b-s-n/

DaNelle is the creator of the blog Weed ‘em & Reap, and author of the book, Have Your Cake & Lose Weight Too. DaNelle, along with her husband and children, raise goats, sheep, and chickens on their urban farm. DaNelle writes about the reversal of disease through real food, restoring health with essential oils, and her backyard farming experiences and gardening adventures.

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