Every parent wants their children to be healthy. To ensure optimal health and growth, you need to provide them with proper nutrition with enough vitamins and minerals, plenty of exercise, and a good night’s sleep. A variety of whole, fresh foods, and kid-sized portions are key ingredients to a nutritious diet.
Although healthy foods are considered the best source of nutrients and experts agree that kids should get their recommended dose of minerals and vitamins from a well-balanced diet, let’s be honest: kids often don’t eat what they should, or at least not enough of fresh and whole foods.
Under certain circumstances, children might need supplements. For instance, if your kids are picky eaters, it may cause nutritional deficiencies.
Is Your Child Getting the Recommended Level of Vitamins and Minerals?
Factors like age, sex, size, growth, and activity level all affect your kid’s nutrition needs. Besides getting enough calories, your little ones’ diet needs to meet suggested Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).
To achieve proper growth and development, kids need the same vitamins and minerals as adults, just in smaller amounts.
According to JAMA Pediatrics Journal, a third of American children under 19 take dietary supplements, mostly in the form of multivitamins.
If you have any concerns about this particular topic, talk with your child’s doctor.
When Are Vitamins Helpful?
According to Mayo Clinic, multivitamins may be beneficial if your kid has
- a delay in physical and developmental growth,
- certain chronic medical conditions (such as digestive problems or asthma) or food allergies,
- and when they are on a restrictive diet (like a strict vegan or dairy-free diet).
Also, today’s hectic lifestyle often means that nourishing, home-cooked meals aren’t the reality for many families. Hence, pediatricians also advise giving vitamins and minerals to:
- Breastfeeding babies, especially premature infants (they can benefit from vitamin D and iron),
- Children with borderline anaemia (they need additional iron),
- Severe picky eaters who are not eating enough healthy meals,
- Kids who are eating a lot of processed foods while not consuming enough of regular, well-balanced meals,
- Children who drink plenty of carbonated drinks since they tend to drain the vitamins and minerals from their little bodies.
Most Important Vitamins for Your Kids
If your child’s doctor recommends including supplements, make sure they don’t provide more than 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamins or minerals. Also, they should be designed for your kid’s age group.
You may wonder what supplements for your kids are essential as they develop and grow, so here is a list of crucial vitamins for growing children:
Vitamin A supports the overall growth and development, a healthy immune system, the skin and eyes, and it also promotes tissue and bone repair. Good sources of this valuable vitamin include dairy products like milk and cheese, eggs, liver, and also yellow-to-orange veggies like carrots, squash, and yams.
The Family of B Vitamins (B2, B3, B6, and B12) is invaluable for metabolic activities, energy production, nervous system, and circulatory health. They are typically found in meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, and whole grains.
Vitamin C is responsible for supporting healthy skin, muscle, and connective tissue. It also helps in healing wounds and bones and develops resistance to infectious diseases. It can be found in fruits and veggies like strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spinach, and green vegetables like Brussels sprouts.
Calcium helps build strong and healthy bones and teeth as your child grows. Bear in mind that almost all of our bone density is built during childhood and teenage years, so this mineral is precious. When kids have strong bones, they are at a lower risk of them weakening later in life. Sources of calcium include dairy items like milk, cheese, and yogurt, nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, and also tofu.
Vitamin D (sometimes labeled vitamin D3) is responsible for proper bone development and teeth formation. It also helps the body to absorb minerals like calcium. The best source of this vitamin is the sun, but it can also be found in dairy products, egg yolks, and fatty fish.
Iron is crucial to healthy red blood cells, and it also helps build strong bones in your little ones’ bodies. When the adolescent growth spurt begins, iron needs an increase. As girls begin to menstruate, they are at a greater risk of iron deficiency because iron gets lost with blood. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional disorders. Food sources of iron include meats like beef, pork, turkey, beans, spinach, and prunes.
When opting for kids’ vitamins, bear in mind that high doses can be toxic. If children get too much vitamins A, D, E, and K (fat-soluble vitamins) and iron, they can cause headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other health issues.
Also, if your child takes medications, they can interact with supplements, so make sure to consult a medical expert before giving them to your little ones. Some vitamins and minerals can lower or boost a medication dose.
Vitamins and other supplements should always be out of your kids’ reach. Talk to your little ones, and explain they are not to be treated like candy and should be consumed as prescribed by their doctor.
One more thing to consider: gummy vitamins are usually higher in added sugar than other vitamins, so skip out on them and opt for a brand with less sugar.
When it comes to kids, getting the right amount of nutrients through diet alone can be challenging. There are legitimate reasons for giving your child vitamin supplements like delayed developmental growth or chronic disease.
If you have any concerns regarding your little ones’ nourishment, bring it up with their pediatrician.