Children eating cereal
Bread, tortillas and cereal are important sources of fiber, folate and iron for children.

WASHINGTON — Certain grain-based foods provide meaningful contributions of needed nutrients, including fiber, iron and folate, to children, according to a study published on-line Feb. 20 in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.

The Grain Foods Foundation, Washington, and Nutritional Strategies, Inc., Paris, Ont., conducted data analysis from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-12. The study determined grain food sources of energy/nutrients in U.S. children and adolescents. The study involved a 24-hour recall method from 6,109 children from the ages of 2 to 18.

All grains provided about 23% of the dietary fiber, 39% of the folate and 35% of the iron in the total diets of the children. The study found bread, rolls and tortillas are meaningful sources of thiamin, folate, dietary fiber, iron and niacin. Ready-to-eat cereals contribute meaningful levels of fiber, iron, vitamin A, zinc and B vitamins (like folate, thiamin, vitamin B12 and niacin).

Yanni Papanikolaou
Yanni Papanikolaou, author of the study and vice-president of Nutritional Strategies

“We understand that children don’t consume enough of certain key nutrients,” said Yanni Papanikolaou, author of the study and vice-president of Nutritional Strategies. “Yet our research shows certain grain foods, which are often children’s favorites, provide meaningful contributions to those nutrients lacking in their diets. With this insight, we can hypothesize that if children consume more of these grain products, they could get closer to recommended nutrient intakes.”

Most American children do not consume enough fiber, iron, vitamin A or folate, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

“Not meeting nutrient recommendations can stall childhood development, ranging from stunting growth to cognitive delays,” said Dyan Hes, M.D., medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York. “Ensuring that our children consume adequate amounts of essential nutrients will facilitate success in the classroom as well as happy and healthy development.”