Nutritional need is a crucial aspect in the growth and development of infants and children. Aside from facilitating the growth and development process, nutrition also provides a wide range of benefits, e.g. preventing diseases caused by malnutrition such as anemia, dermatitis, and asthma.
Nutrient, the essential component of nutrition, is divided into two general categories, namely macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients, e.g. carbohydrate, protein, and fat, serve as a source of calories for growth and development.
Micronutrients are no less important. They are the nutrients humans need during their lifetime for the whole physiological functions. Mineral (the trace element) is part of micronutrients that, even in a small amount, has vital functions.
The trace element is an essential component in various enzymes and transcription factors, thus its maximum amount is highly recommended at the critical stage of the brain development during pregnancy.
The examples of trace element closely associated with the brain development are zinc, iron, and copper, which can damage the brain and the central nervous system development if the amount is insufficient or excessive. The conditions such as asthma are also closely associated with the trace element deficiency.
The trace element imbalance and heavy metal exposure are used to assess the development of the children with autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The deterioration of skills in autistic children is so much driven by the imbalance of minerals such as zinc and magnesium, and also the exposure of heavy metals.
Why assessing the nutritional status is important
Based on the recommendation of the Indonesian Pediatric Society, the nutritional status assessment shall take into account some aspects such as diet, eating habit, diet tolerance, and the clinical conditions that affect the diet.
It is important to clinically assess the nutritional status and the exposure of heavy metals in order to determine whether oro-motor disorders are from the diet. Thus, an accurate nutritional recommendation can be provided.
The tests to examine the nutritional status and the heavy metal exposure are available in the panels, so that the doctors are facilitated to give some advice on the intake of additional nutrition and the prevention of heavy metal exposure. The nutrition and heavy metal panels include Zinc (Zn), Selenium (Se), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Cobalt (Co), Vanadium (V), Chromium (Cr), Molybdenum (Mo), Lead (Pb), and Mercury (Hg).