Nutritional requirements

Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition 3(2+1)
Lesson 14:Nutritional and Food Requirements for Preschool Children

Nutritional requirements


  • Required for growth and activity
  • Insufficient food leads to undernutrition resulting in
    • Inadequate weight gain
    • Growth hindrance
  • Insufficient calorie intake leads to protein deficiency as proteins are spared for energy.


There is increase in muscle mass and bone growth which requires positive nitrogen balance. It can be met by protein intake of 1.5 to 2g/ kg body weight. The increase in total body size requires larger vascular system to transport nutrients to tissues and all waste products away from tissues. Therefore increase in demand for nutrients for blood formation like protein, iron, folacin and pyridoxine. Bone growth also creates a need for increased protein intake.


Fat (visible + invisible) for pre- school children should meet 25% of total energy and 5-6% of essential fatty acid from total fat.


Calcium 400mg/day. All dietary calcium is not absorbed, therefore 400mg is to be given but the actual requirement is less. Milk is the best source of calcium for children (1-2 glasses/ day)


  • During growth period, with each kilogram increase in body weight, 30mg of iron is required
  • On an average increase in body weight is 2 kg/year. Therefore 0.2 to 0.5 mg/kg of body weight per day of iron is required.
  • Iron rich foods like rice flakes, egg yolk, green leafy vegetables should be included in the diet.
  • Dietary lack of iron accompanied by hook worm infestation can lead to anaemia.


Vitamin A deficiency symptoms such as bitot spots, night blindness are high in Indian children. Therefore good amount of milk, eggs, carrots, green leafy vegetables etc. should be included. Vitamin A of 400µg/day have been suggested including the safety allowances. Vitamin D of 200 I.U/day of is suggested.

Vitamin B requirements are based on energy intake (per 1000 k cal)

    • Thiamine – 0.5mg
    • Riboflavin - 0.6mg
    • Niacin - 6.6mg

RDA for preschool children:

Weight (kg) 12.2 19.0
Energy (k cal) 1240 1690
Protein (g) 22 30
Fat (g) 25 25
Calcium (mg) 400 400
Iron (mg) 12 18
Vitamin A (?g) 400 400
? Carotene (?g) 1600 1600
Thiamine (mg) 0.6 0.9
Riboflavin (mg) 0.7 1.0
Nicotinic acid (mg) 8 11
Pyridoxine (mg) 0.9 0.9
Ascorbic acid (mg) 40 40
Folic acid (?g) 30 40
Vitamin B (?g) 0.2 to 1 0.2 to 1
Last modified: Monday, 24 October 2011, 8:53 AM