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The Growing Need For Supplements in Children and Adults

July 9, 2022

There are many reasons for the need for dietary supplements in children and adults. They can fill nutritional gaps and protect against illness—increased risk of eating disorders, iron, zinc, and calcium deficiency, and many others. In addition to helping with the growth and development of children, supplements can also help adults maintain healthy blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and a healthy immune system. Read on for more information about the importance of dietary supplements in children and adults.

Increased risk of eating disorders

 

Research shows that people in minority groups are at increased risk for eating disorders. Often, the rapid westernization of cultures and children can play a role. Such a quick change's stress and body image issues can lead to eating disorders. In Fiji, for example, Western television was introduced three years ago. A study of a group of women revealed that many had developed severe eating disorders. Nearly 74% considered themselves "too fat," 69% tried to lose weight, and 11% even self-induced vomiting. In Fiji, it's believed that 29% of women have an eating disorder.

The rise in mental health conditions in adolescents is also evident. The CDC reports that the proportion of children and adolescents visiting a mental health facility increased by 24 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, over the same period. Females' ER visits for eating disorders more than doubled. These numbers are likely the result of a lack of structure and emotional stress in teenagers' lives, as well as fluctuations in food availability. It is possible that these factors contributed to a delay in diagnosis and treatment, allowing symptoms to worsen.

An eating disorder in children is often associated with binge eating. Bulimia, for example, is characterized by purging after binge eating. However, binge eating without purging is still a severe disorder, requiring professional mental health care treatment. In children and adults, a condition known as Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) involves a restricted diet and nutrient deficiency. The disorder can lead to dependency on dietary supplements and feeding tubes if untreated.

The risk of developing an eating disorder increases as a child or adolescent transitions to young adulthood. This stage of life is filled with transitions, including living on their own, continued developmental changes, and social upheaval. Understanding how these changes may contribute to mental health problems is essential. Additionally, eating disorder behaviours may be a maladaptive coping mechanism to cope with the changing body.

Increased risk of iron deficiency

People with certain gastrointestinal disorders or who have had certain gastrointestinal surgeries are at a higher risk of iron deficiency. Such diseases often require dietary restriction, and gastrointestinal surgery can cause significant loss of blood and iron. Patients with iron deficiency may experience a condition called microcytic or hypochromic anaemia. In this case, low iron intake may result in a negative iron balance and lower haemoglobin production.

Children are most vulnerable to iron deficiency. Preterm infants, low birth weight infants, and mothers with iron deficiency have the highest risk of developing iron deficiency. However, full-term infants rarely require external iron until they are four to six months old. Once a child is six to nine months old, severe iron deficiency increases their risk of developing anaemia, which can affect their growth and development.

Low iron intake during pregnancy is also associated with increased risks of IDA in infants and children. Iron levels in cord blood correlate with the mother's haemoglobin and ferritin. In addition, mothers with severe anaemia tend to produce lower amounts of breast milk than mothers with normal iron levels. Therefore, iron supplementation during pregnancy is recommended for pregnant women in populations with a high incidence of maternal anaemia. In addition, pregnant women at risk for IDA should eat plenty of iron-fortified foods.

Although an iron deficiency in children and adults is a public health issue, research shows its effects can be long-lasting. While the number of iron-deficient children in the United States is decreasing, the negative consequences on the child's health are still substantial. Iron treatment is essential because it is a relatively safe, minimally-invasive procedure. Unlike iron replacement, iron deficiency screening is minimally-invasive and offers a low risk of side effects

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Increased risk of zinc deficiency

Increased risk of zinc deficiency is prevalent in both children and adults. It is a metabolic mineral essential for human health, but the body cannot produce sufficient amounts of zinc on its own. Zinc deficiency leads to various physical and mental disorders, including anaemia, anorexia, and irritability. In older people, zinc deficiency is also known to contribute to systemic immune dysfunction.

In children, the prevalence of zinc deficiency was highest among infants and young children, with rates corresponding to age groups. Zinc supplementation improved the ratio of helper T-cells to cytotoxic T-cells in the blood. Despite the low dose of zinc, this approach did not improve children's chances of developing severe malaria. It reduced the number of health centre visits and hospital admissions for malaria-related infections in children. In the same study, zinc supplementation reduced the risk of pneumonia by 13%. Further, the supplementation may be helpful when combined with antibiotic therapy.

Among other complications of zinc deficiency, diarrhoea and short stature are the most common symptoms. In children, zinc deficiency can lead to several complications, including failure to thrive and stunted growth.

Preterm infants may be at risk of zinc deficiency due to the mother's inadequate mineral supply. Breast milk cannot replace zinc lost in breast milk, especially for preterm infants. Infants with inadequate milk secretion due to SLC30A2 mutation will require supplemental zinc. In addition, high zinc doses can impair iron and copper absorption and cause genito-urinary problems.

Increased risk of calcium deficiency

The association between lower dietary calcium intake and a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer is unclear. However, several extensive observational studies have linked low calcium intake with a higher risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and stroke. These studies include adults with and without obesity and looked at total dietary calcium intake and the associated risks of cardiovascular diseases. In particular, the association between low calcium intake and increased risk of atherosclerosis was most pronounced in women and adults aged 20 to 44.

A recent report on calcium supplements and heart disease found a possible association between a low calcium intake and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke in older women.

While babies get calcium from breast milk and formula, school-age children and pre-teens may require other calcium-rich foods. Some healthy calcium-rich foods include yoghurt, unsweetened apple butter, and smoothies. Other calcium-rich foods include low-fat cheese and white beans, and those with lactose intolerance or allergy should eat a variety of dairy products, fruit juices, and fortified food.

The New York Academy of Sciences and the Children's Investment Fund Foundation convened a Calcium Task Force consisting of micronutrients, nutrition, and biochemistry experts. The report concluded that calcium supplementation for pregnant women and calcium for the elderly might significantly reduce the risk of preeclampsia and lower the incidence of these conditions. The report also evaluated the effectiveness of food-based interventions to improve calcium intake in children and adults.

A lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis and reduce bone strength. In addition, calcium deficiency in children can result in rickets and other bone disorders. Those with this genetic disorder are at greater risk of developing a calcium deficiency than healthy individuals. Another factor that can increase the risk of developing a calcium deficiency is hypoparathyroidism. This disorder affects the production of the hormone that controls calcium levels in the blood. Since calcium is used quickly in the body, vegans have a greater risk of developing this condition.

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