Nutrition for the Life Cycle Series – Nutrition During Infancy

By Emily Carver, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

This is part two of a five-part series on nutrition within the life cycle. Read part one here.


Infancy is often thought of as the age immediately following birth. As long as the baby’s age can still be given in weeks, they’re still an infant, right? The truth is infants are considered infants until their first birthday. Even if they’ve said their first word, are eating solids, and have already taken their first step, they are still considered to be in the infant stage of life until they hit one year.

This is important to know because nutritionally speaking, infants’ needs are different from those of toddlers and preschoolers. An infant’s birth weight triples in the first twelve months of life, and yet their energy needs – calories per day – are less than that of a toddler.


Think on that for one moment. A baby’s weight triples in just one year. That’s how much they grow in such a short amount of time. Nutrition in their first year of life is crucial to help pave the way for their formidable years.


Typically, within the first six months, a baby is reliant on the mother, either through breastmilk or formula. Once a baby is around six months old, parents can begin introducing solids into the baby’s diet. When this takes place, parents, especially first-time parents, might feel uncertain about knowing how much the baby should consume each day.


Per the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board, the energy needs of an infant are higher per pound of body weight than any time of life. For 6-12-month-olds, the average energy needs are 98 cal/per kilogram of weight (1). So, for example, a seven-month-old baby weighing 18lbs (8.16kg) should expect to get around 800 calories a day.


This is said not to begin the unnecessary task of calorie counting for your infant, but instead to provide a general idea of how much they should consume each day. By making sure babies receive enough fats and proteins in their daily diet, it’ll help their development milestones.


The recommended protein intake for 6-12-month-olds is 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight, which would equate to 13 grams of protein for an 18lb seven-month-old baby. The amount of protein needed for each individual baby is based on their body composition and should be given based on the baby’s need. Protein is more necessary for the maintenance of muscles and less for the baby’s energy needs, and if a baby has more active muscles, then more protein may be necessary.


Good sources of protein are:


Sweet potatoes – mashed

Plain, boiled chicken



Fats, however, do not have a daily recommended amount and this is because fats are in high demand and very important to a baby’s development and energy. Infants use fats to supply energy to the liver, brain, and muscles, including the heart (2). Because infants use fats for generating energy, they typically cannot tolerate fasting for too long, which could be why they wake up in the middle of the night needing to be fed.


With this in mind, there are many great sources of healthy fats a baby can get beyond the mother’s milk or formula.


Foods high in healthy fats and essential fatty acids are:


Mashed avocados

Greek yogurt

Soft cheese


Baked fish – ie. salmon


One thing all parents should remember when introducing any of these solids and new foods to their infant is to focus on one new food for 2-3 days before introducing the next new food. This helps you, the parent, keep track of any potential food allergies or intolerances the baby may have. This may take extra time to expand their food palette but it’ll be the best option for you and baby in the long-run.



Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2002.


Brown, J.E., Isaaacs, J.S., Krinke, B.U., Lechtenberg, E., Sharbaugh, C., et al. (2014). Nutrition Through the Lifecycles. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning

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Nutrition for the Life Cycle Series – Nutrition During Lactation

By Emily Carver, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

First in a series

Your world has changed forever. You just welcomed a beautiful new baby into the world and they are dependent on you for everything, including food. If this is your first child, this might be incredibly daunting and exhausting, and if this is an additional child, this might still be incredibly daunting and exhausting!

Whether you’re able to nurse your newborn or not, nutrition plays a key role in how you and your newborn feel. It can be easy to push your needs aside as you cope with feeling overwhelmed and exhausted as you adjust to all the changes, however, taking care of yourself by ensuring you’re getting enough nutritious foods will have tremendous benefits on your recovery.

This can certainly be an “easier said than done” statement, but when you make sure you’re eating enough calories to sustain yourself and your baby, you’ll have more energy and your milk production will have a greater chance of sustaining, rather than decreasing with lack of calories consumed.

The number of calories that a lactating mother need varies by the individual. The Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) assumes that roughly 500 calories per day are burned for a normal-weight lactating woman for milk production within the first six months (1). Because of this, it’s estimated that they need an additional 330 – 450 calories a day.

This means, women who are lactating need to increase the amount of nutritious food they eat by 330 – 450 calories every day in order to make up the difference.

If you’re uncertain how you can increase your caloric intake and what foods would be good choices,, helps take the guesswork out of it for you (2). They’ve designed a general food plan lactating women can use and adapt to suit their nutrition needs.

Some aspects of the food plan include consuming over 3 ounces of whole grains a day. Whole grains can be a slice of wheat toast, cooked pasta or rice, and tortillas. 2 ½ cups of vegetables a day are also recommended such as raw or cooked dark green vegetables, beans, peas, and any vegetable that are red or orange in color. For fruit, 2 cups a day, whether dried, fresh, or cooked can be consumed to meet your daily needs.

Protein is another major component of the day’s food plan, and Choose My Plate recommends 5 ½ ounces a day. Protein can be consumed in a variety of ways, including meats, poultry, eggs, peanut butter, nuts, and beans. If you consume only plant-based foods, it’s important to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of bioavailable B12 through other sources like yeast and seaweed or in a vitamin supplement.

To read the complete list of foods Choose My Plate offers for a 2,000 calorie a day food plan, visit their website for more. No matter your food preferences, one thing to remember that will help you and the baby is whole foods are best. The less processed the better, and with everything, moderation is key.

When it comes to food choices, there’s an abundance to choose from, so load up on all the nutrients you can find, and nourish your body as you recover. We all know you need it!



Brown, J.E., Isaaacs, J.S., Krinke, B.U., Lechtenberg, E., Sharbaugh, C., et al. (2014). Nutrition Through the Lifecycles. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning


United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). MyPlan for Moms. Retrieved from:

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The Importance of Vitamin K

By Noor Nouaillati, Recent ASU Nutrtion Student

We all know that every nutrient found in a particular food item is very important for our body and health. All the foods we eat from greens to protein is nutritious for our body and mind and soul to keep working and keeping us healthy. Since I have been working at a Cardiologist office, I see patients who come in every week. Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, is a medicine that the doctors prescribe to their patients that are at high risk of forming blood clots. This is a serious issue and when blood clots form it can block the flow of blood to the heart as well as the brain.

As a dietetics’ student, we all know that just because a certain person is super fit, works out and eats great does not necessarily mean that they do not face any health issues and vice versa.

Vitamin K, in this case, plays a major role with warfarin or Coumadin. When you lower your intake of vitamin K you are increasing the chance of creating blood clots. When you are consistent with your vitamin K intake than you are on a great track. Your intake of foods that are rich in vitamin K should be consistent. So for example, if I have 2-3 servings of vitamin K today then I should have the same tomorrow and throughout the whole week.

Here are a couple of foods that are rich in vitamin K:

  • Kale (cooked)
  • Spinach (cooked/raw)
  • Broccoli (cooked/raw)
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados

Do your research, ask around and read more about the value of vitamin K. If you have any questions do not hesitate to call your doctor.

For more informative articles be sure to check out the Fill Your Plate blog! New articles are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!

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We Should Be Bullish about Barley

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Outreach Director

This year, Arizona farmers intend to plant 11,000 acres of barley, lowest acreage since 1928 when only 8,000 acres were planted, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS). If anyone can highlight our agriculture numbers it’s USDA-NASS!

Barley, a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates all over the world. Found in ancient Eurasia civilizations as long ago as 5,000 years, it’s considered one of the first cultivated grains.

A major whole-grain cereal grain, you’ll find barley in bread, beverages and various cuisines of just about every culture. And as we’ve been learning lately, whole grains are an important source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are not found in refined or “enriched” grains. Refining grains removes the bran, germ and most of their fiber and nutrients.

So, though Arizona’s barley acres are down this year, it’s still important to know that our farmers are growing this important cereal grain right here in our desert state. Sourced from information by USDA, the University of Arizona and, the following fun facts about barley will make us appreciate this often-overlooked cereal grain.

  1. The Egyptians were the first known brewers of barley into beer.
  2. Roman gladiators were called “barley men” (the hordearii) because they ate massive amounts of barley bread since it was believed to increase stamina and strength.
  3. Malting barley is a delicate process and required close attention to detail and careful timing of even the harvest. The barley must be malted in a living state with a minimum of 95% germination to be suitable for brewing beer.
  4. Non-alcoholic drinks such as barley water and barley tea (call mugicha in Japan), have been made by boiling barley in water. Barleywine was an alcoholic drink made in the 1700s, prepared from recipes of ancient Greek origin. It was prepared by boiling barley in water, the water from the barley was then mixed with white wine, and other ingredients like borage, lemon, and sugar were added.
  5. Until the 1500s, barley was Europe’s most important crop, at times even serving as a currency and a standard of measurement.
  6. About half of the United States’ barley production is used as an animal feed. Barley is an important feed grain in many areas of the world not typically suited for maize production, especially in northern climates.
  7. Barley is the principal feed grain in Canada, Europe, and the northern United States.
  8. Barley contains all eight essential amino acids. According to a recent study, eating whole grain barley can regulate blood sugar for up to 10 hours after consumption compared to white or even whole-grain wheat, which has a similar glycemic index. Barley can also be used as a coffee substitute.
  9. In Arizona, barley is grown mainly as a source of animal feed and used in making beer. Yuma, Arizona-grown barley is a reasonably fast growing and early maturing grain crop, averaging about 50 days from seed to harvest.

To learn more about Arizona’s amazing array of crops grown, go to Fill Your Plate’s blog. Besides articles about nutrition, we periodically highlight the crops this desert state grows.

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Calcium and Your Colon: How Calcium Just Might Save Your Life

By Emily Carver, Recent ASU Nutrition Student

When thinking about calcium, the first thought that generally comes to mind is milk and bones.

Growing up, we’re told calcium has a great and positive impact on our bones, and this is true. When children, up through their teen years, consuming the proper amount of calcium, their bones will become strong, which can help keep them from randomly breaking. Most, if not all, people want strong, healthy bones that won’t fail them when they take a step off the curb.

What some might not realize about calcium is it can also have a great and positive impact on the colon. The topic of colon health isn’t exactly a topic to discuss around the dinner table like bones might be, however, it’s a discussion worth having. Colon cancer appears to be on the rise among young adults, and the question as to why is still being asked. It’s worth noting that colon cancer diagnoses in the United States has decreased, yet is steadily increasing among adults between the ages of 20-39.


Perhaps it’s the packaged, preprocessed foods being consumed. Or, certain types of products being used; one cannot know for certain, but regardless of what one may have done in the past, changes can be made now, for a more promising future for your colon.


Consume more calcium. The daily recommended intake of calcium for adults 19-50 years old, is 1,000mg. How much is 1,000mg exactly? It’s drinking just under a quart of 2% milk each day. Quite a lot of milk. If drinking that much milk a day leaves a sour taste in your mouth, then consider the following options as great calcium-rich alternatives.


  • 2 ½ Tbsp. grated cheddar cheese – (307mg)
  • 8oz plain yogurt, low fat – (415mg)
  • 1 cup white beans – (191mg)
  • 2 cups cooked kale – (188mg)
  • 1 orange – (65mg)
  • 1 cup raw broccoli – (62mg)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese – (138mg)
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. mozzarella, part skim – (333mg)


It’s easy to see just how simple it is to get the necessary amount of calcium through a variety of nutritious sources. By consuming any number of these common foods each day, you’ll not only get the calcium you need, but also a variety of important vitamins and minerals your body needs to remain healthy and strong. With studies showing that consuming the proper amount of calcium can reduce the risk of colon cancer, it’s easy to want to get on board the calcium-consuming train.


Cancer is a scary thing, and colon cancer is no exception. With it being the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths, it’s one to

take very seriously. If you have a family history of colon cancer or feel like the common symptoms the Mayo Clinic list of: blood in your stool, a change in your bowel habits that lasts longer than four weeks, or constant stomach discomfort, like cramps and pain might be symptoms you’re currently dealing with, contacting your doctor to discuss the possibility for a colonoscopy might be worth it.


Four additional ways to reduce your risk. Beyond calcium, some additional ways you can help reduce your risk are maintaining a healthy weight and by exercising on a regular basis. Avoid smoking at all costs. Get regular screenings, and finally consume foods high in fiber, such as leafy green vegetables and a variety of fruits. Colon cancer is one of the more preventable cancers when you take charge of your health, get regular screenings, and eat a well-balanced diet that’s full of the nutrients your body needs.


So, let’s stop that colon cancer number from rising. Grab that orange, eat your broccoli, walk up that flight of stairs, and let’s make our colons happy once and for all.

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