Commentary—Finding Important Nutrients in Unexpected Places


While you might not typically put chopped or blended, unsalted, boiled canned oysters on your usual list of recommended infant and toddler foods, maybe you should.

The American Academy of Pediatrics just published a new policy statement on advocacy to improve child nutrition in the first 1,000 days (from conception to age 2). The statement emphasizes the importance of nutrition to optimal brain development. Pediatricians are encouraged to be familiar with community services to support optimal nutrition such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and food pantries and soup kitchens, but also to get beyond recommending a “good diet” to something more specific that is high in key nutrients important for brain development such as protein; zinc; iron; choline; folate; iodine; vitamins A, D, B6, and B12; and polyunsaturated fatty acids. That’s where the boiled oysters, a decent source of the listed nutrients and especially loaded with zinc, iron, and vitamin B12, come in. While not everyone is going to rush out to buy their babies such an unexpected (and for many, unfamiliar) food, the statement reminds pediatricians to recommend foods that are good sources of the nutrients that babies and toddlers need most. Other foods that fit the bill include oatmeal, meat and poultry, fish like salmon and tuna, eggs, tofu and soybeans, and other legumes and beans like chickpeas and lentils.

Natalie D. Muth, MD
Children's Primary Care Medical Group
Carlsbad, California

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