It seems like every day there is a new vitamin you need to make sure your kids are getting. Although they might not be as high-profile as vitamin C and B12, zinc and B6 are both essential nutrients that your child's body needs. There are plenty of natural sources of both vitamins that you can incorporate into your daily cooking. If you do decide to give vitamin supplements to your child, make sure you consult a doctor beforehand to determine an appropriate dosage.
Certain types of meat are excellent sources of zinc, a mineral that promotes cell division and immunity in your child. Oysters are highest in zinc but are probably not appetizing to a child. Make them more appealing by frying them and serving them with a ranch dipping sauce. Or, serve beef shanks, pork shoulder or chicken legs for dinner. Dish out baked beans on the side for an extra dose of zinc. Beef, pork and chicken leftovers also make tasty sandwiches that your child can bring to school the next day. Use whole-grain bread for slightly more zinc and add moisture and flavor with a creamy dressing.
Cereal and Nuts
Serving your child a breakfast cereal fortified with zinc is a sure-fire way to make sure he gets enough. Instead of milk, try substituting low-fat yogurt, which also contains zinc, to make a delicious parfait. Use zinc-fortified cereal as a topping on a casserole instead of breadcrumbs. Dry-roasted cashews are also an excellent source of zinc. Serve them as a hearty snack, either at home or for your child's lunch. You can also add chopped cashews to a salad topped with creamy dressing or to a vegetable stir fry. Make the vegetable stir fry more kid-friendly by flavoring it with soy sauce or a ranch seasoning mix.
Your child needs vitamin B6 for her immune system to function properly. Unlike zinc, it is easy for vegetarians to get the right amount of B6. Baked potatoes with the skin left on are one of the best natural sources. Serve a baked potato with spinach on the side for an extra shot of B6. Chop up raw potatoes and bake them in the oven with the skins on, sprinkled with olive oil, pepper and garlic powder or ranch seasoning mix for delicious and healthy "French fries." Grate leftover baked potatoes into a frying pan and make quick hash browns as a breakfast treat on the weekends. For kids who love to dip, provide ketchup or creamy dressing for these potato dishes.
Chick peas, or garbanzo beans, are another B6-rich food. Make a quick chick pea salad with green onions, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Add a light creamy salad dressing to enhance the flavor. Make chick peas into a delicious snack by combining them with lemon juice, garlic and tahini in the food processor to make hummus. If you are all out of tahini, you can substitute ranch dressing, for a kid-friendly take on traditional hummus. Add the spices of your choice and serve with carrot sticks, pita or corn chips. You can also add chick peas to curry or chili.
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