Protein is one of the fundamental nutrients that help with children’s growth and development. Protein is found in a wide variety of animal and plant-based foods. Fish, seafood, meat, eggs and dairy products in small quantities are rich in high-quality protein. As in vegetables, we can find the highest protein content in beans, soy-based products (such as tempeh, tofu and edamame), nuts and seeds. Another interesting source of protein is yeast, which is also nutritious as it contains added zinc, magnesium, copper and other minerals as well as the entire vitamin B1 group.
Protein is essential for growth because it is the main nutrient used to build and repair body tissue. Bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and even blood are built using protein. Proteins are also used to make enzymes (necessary for most organ functions) and hormones that play a role in a child's immune and endocrine systems. Therefore, protein deficiency can affect a child's growth and increase the risk of disease due to a weak immune system.
A child with protein deficiency will show symptoms ranging from changes in skin pigmentation, loss of muscle mass to hair loss or skin rash. To make sure your child is getting enough protein in their diet, try to include protein-rich foods in every meal.
- Kim F Michaelsen, Frank R Greer. "Protein needs early in life and long-term health, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." 2014; 99(3): 718S–722S.