Santé et Services sociaux Québec.

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Growth

After several growth spurts during the first years of life, 4-year-olds begin growing more slowly. At the same time, their appetite drops off. At this point, parents often worry about how little their children are eating. While their servings may be smaller, the nutrient density of the foods you offer them must be higher to ensure that the nutrient intakes meet their needs. Several key nutrients call for particular attention, since inadequate intake could be harmful for the child’s growth and development. Iron, calcium, and vitamin D are among the key nutrients to monitor, especially in children who eat lots of foods with low nutrient density.

Nutrient Density

Foods have varied levels of vitamins and minerals:

  • If a food’s vitamin and mineral contents are low compared to its energy content, the food has low nutrient density (such as pastry) and is referred to as being an empty-calorie food.
  • If a food’s vitamin and mineral contents are high compared to its energy content, the food has high nutrient density (such as vegetables and fruit).