Energy is required for growth and activity. The rate of growth fluctuates with age. Upto 10 years, there is no difference in sex for dietary allowance. The energy requirements are 1240 k.cal for 1-3 years and 1690 k.cal for 4-6 years. Improper weaning may lead to protein and energy malnutrition.
The increasing muscle mass requires a positive nitrogen balance. The basal losses and the additional requirement for growth have been considered in determining the allowances for protein. The protein requirement is 22g and 30g for age groups 1-3 years and 4 - 6 years respectively.
Adequate fat is required to provide the extra calories as well as to add calorie density and reduce bulk in the diet. The linoleic acid requirement is 3 percent of energy. To provide sufficient energy density and improve palatability of the diet 25g of visible fat per day has been suggested.
Calcium requirements are assessed based on the calcium accretion in the body during period of growth. This deposition is not uniform throughout the growing period but is relatively higher during early childhood and during adolescence. Moreover all dietary calcium is not absorbed. Hence to ensure a positive balance, 400mg of calcium per day is recommended.
Iron requirements during childhood need to cover the basal loss of iron from the body, amount needed for growth and for increase in the haemoglobin concentration by about 1g/ dl. Based on this the requirements are given as 12 mg/day and 18 mg/day for 1 - 3 years and 4 - 6 years respectively.
It has been observed that the incidence of vitamin A deficiency is high and serum vitamin A levels are low in Indian children whose intake of Vitamin A is less than 100µg/day. However, when food supplements providing a total of 300µg/day are given over a period of six months the deficiency symptoms disappear. Based on this observation and including a safety allowance, ICMR has suggested an intake 400 mg of vitamin A/day.
B complex vitamins
The recommended intake for B vitamins is based on the energy intake and is calculated as for adults i.e., 0.5mg/1000k.cal, 0.6mg/ 1000k.cal and 6.6mg/1000k.cal for thiamine, riboflavin and niacin respectively.
Folic acid and pyridoxine requirements are computed from interpolation of values for infants and adults. The requirement for children is slightly higher than that of infants.
ICMR has suggested the same level of vitamin C as for adults i.e, 40 mg/day for preschool children.
The RDA for preschool children is given in List.
The quantities of various food groups to be included in a balanced diet for preschool children is given in List.
Balanced diet for Preschool Children
S.No. Food groups quantity ( g ) : 1 - 3 years , 4 - 6 years
1. Cereals and Millets 120 210
2. Pulses 30 45
3. Milk (ml) 500 500
4. Roots and tubers 50 100
5. Green leafy vegetables 50 50
6. Other vegetables 50 50
7. Fruits 100 100
8. Sugar 25 30
9. Fats / oils (visible) 20 25
Source : Dietary Guidelines for Indians - A manual, National Institute of Nutrition, ICMR, Hyderabad, India, 1999.