Prepared by Paulette Millis, R.H.N. | healingwithnutrition.ca
Dry and/or scaly skin is the sign of essential fatty acid deficiency. The skin’s outermost layer is composed of cell membranes and protein, and the cell membranes are dependent on good fats.
A healthy child has lustrous skin and hair. Hair is really an appendage of the skin, made of protein derived from cell membranes. Many children today have dull hair and dry skin; actually, varying degrees of dryness are the rule, from a flat dullness to visible scaling and roughness.
Healthy food fats are the best way to ensure that your child gets the balanced essential fatty acids that they need, and these are walnuts, raw nuts and seeds, fresh fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines), avocado, and navy and kidney beans.
Clearly it is a problem for parents to ensure their children receive an adequate intake, particularly a fussy eater, therefore food oils are the most practical way to supply EFAs to their children.
These are fish oil extracts, black currant oil (unique in containing gamma linoleic acid or GLA, helpful during metabolism of linoleic acid), cod liver oil (never use defatted cod liver oil, but may purchase the flavored oil). Children with eczema may have difficulty converting linoleic acid, the major omega-6 EFA, to GLA, and black currant oil gets around this problem.
While we are looking at skin health here, parents will discover that learning disabilities may improve, and behavior problems may lessen when their child is no longer deficient in essential fats. Some sources say that 80% of hyperactive children benefit from EFAs. If your child suffers from autoimmune disorders, asthma, and many other illnesses, you may see lessening of symptoms over time.
It is useful to open a capsule and add it to smoothies or other foods for children that are unable to swallow capsules, and rubbing the oil from the capsule on the skin is most helpful as well (do not give capsules to children under the age of 4). In addition to the borage oil for GLA content, use pure oils rather than lotions that contain many undesirable additives, such as pure jojoba oil, pure avocado oil, pure walnut oil and pure hemp oil , even olive oil, as good sources for rubbing on a baby’s, or children’s skin.
Seeing healthy skin and hair on a child means the essential fats are being assimilated, and this is helping the child to build resistance to disease.
Because Vitamin A is a co-factor nutrient, helping the enzymes in your child’s body metabolize EFAs, it is crucial to healthy skin. The best sources of vitamin A are orange, red, yellow, and deep green vegetables, for example carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tomato, spinach, watermelon, mango, and apricots. Good animal sources are the egg yolks from pasture raised chickens, and cod liver oil.
As the cell membranes are composed of protein as well, it is important to ensure your child has small amounts of good quality protein, spread over the day. Avoid processed proteins, as well as all processed foods; many are full of undesirable additives and sugars.
Many children love pasta; purchase pastas such as chickpea rotini, quinoa swirls, lentil pasta, black bean spaghetti, and other whole food pastas rather than the usual pasta made from white wheat flour. Salads made by combining the bean pasta with the grain pasta give the child a good source of protein.
Another way to increase the nutrient value of pasta sauces is to add some vegetable powders such as dehydrated beets, tomatoes, and onions, as well as a good quality (high level of amino acids) collagen powder.
Spend time with your children planning menus, recipes, and shopping together for the ingredients. Allow them to help in the preparation of the foods, encouraging interest and desire to eat what they have made.
Paulette Millis is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Registered Social Worker; author of the best selling healing manual Eat Away Illness as well as four more books on healing foods and recipes. Sign up for her blog at www.healingwithnutrition.ca for some great recipes.