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How Much Protein Does a Child Need Each Day?

Hello Villagers. Protein foods are an incredibly important part of our daily diet. However, with diets such as the paleo diet, the ketogenic diet, Atkins, and various celebrities constantly touting the need for ample protein, it’s easy to distort just how much we need. This can translate into a distortion of our children’s protein needs as well.

Pediatric Nutrition Handbook, 7th edition American Academy of Pediatrics

*Pediatric Nutrition Handbook, 7th edition American Academy of Pediatrics

Good quality protein sources can come from both plants and animals. Animal sources are considered complete proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids that we need to get from our food. Plant proteins should be paired with grains to create a complete protein.

When selecting meats, choose leaner cuts and those without visible fat for healthier options. Consider adding seafood to your menu for omega-3 fatty acids that aid in brain development. Many egg dishes can be made in advance and frozen to help make breakfast easier. Beans are a great low cost option and cook great in a slow cooker. They can simmer all day and be ready to serve when you and your family get home. If your family has peanut allergies, there are plenty of quality nut and seed butters available.

Jessica Barnes, PhD, RDN, LD

Dr. Jessica Barnes received her PhD in nutrition from Texas Woman's University. Her research focused on food preference development and creating materials to help preschoolers become familiar with healthy foods. She has worked with families and communities as a clinical and community Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

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