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Lactation is the period following birth whereby milk is produced and
secreted. During the later stages of pregnancy, the female's body
prepares itself for lactation by laying down fat. Those fat deposits
laid down during pregnancy are used for future energy needs of the
infant through breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding provides the complete form of infant nutrition for the first
six months of life. However after six months breastmilk alone will not
be able to provide all the nutrients the infant requires to achieve optimum
growth and development. At six months breastmilk  must be complemented
with a variety of adequate nutritious foods from the six food groups so that
the infant will have sufficient energy, protein and nutrients needed for
growth, increased activity and good health.

Children aged two to five years have high energy and nutrient needs
because of their continued growth and development.  To ensure that
the preschooler’s diet is nutritionally adequate, it should be based on a
wide variety of foods from the six food groups.  This will provide sufficent
energy and nutrients required for good health and physical and mental
development.

School aged children require a varied balance of foods from the six
food groups for overall growth and health. Eating healthy assists
their full potential in physical and mental development. Children
require sufficient energy and nutrients to meet the needs of their
growing bodies. Adequate protein is needed for the formation of bone
tissue and lean body mass. Iron is essential for growth, the immune
system and cognitive functions.

Adolescence is the period of transition between childhood and adulthood.
and adulthood. It is the period where a significant growth spurt occurs.
Teenagers grow rapidly and therefore their bodies have special requirement
of vitamins, minerals, energy and protein in order to prevent future health
problems. These requirements can only be met by eating an adequate
amount of a variety of nutritious foods from the six food groups.

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Caribbean Food & Nutrition Institute
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University of the West Indies Campus Mona, P. O. Box 140, Kingston 7, Jamaica
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Caribbean Food & Nutrition Institute
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