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Nutritional needs for children vary widely based on their age, race, sex, and physical activity across countries. However, health experts suggest that in general, children ages 2–8 require 1,000–1,400 calories every day. Kids between the age of 9–13 need 1,400–2,600 calories daily.
Children need smaller quantities of the same nutrients as adults. Growing kids require calcium and vitamin D for strong bones. But did you know they also need micronutrients like iron, zinc, iodine, choline, and vitamins A, B6 (folate), and B12 to enhance their brain development, especially in the early ages? But most parents worry whether diet or cartoon-filled colorful supplements are the answer to their woes of picky eater tots.
How to Ensure Your Child Is Getting Enough Nutrients
Parents feel more distressed thinking about whether their kids are getting enough nutrients so that they don’t have to rely on supplements.
Incorporating supplements into your child’s diet should only be an option once you have tried and failed to fulfill their nutritional requirements with diet.
We all know that fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and dairy products (if your child can tolerate them) are essential ingredients of a nutrition-rich diet for your child.
Nevertheless, getting your kid to eat healthy foods is tantamount to climbing Everest. To help your kid eat more healthy produce, try to prepare veggies and fruits in creative and tasty ways. Additionally, added sugars and highly processed foods, fruit juice should be limited if not entirely avoided.
Do Kids Need Any Multivitamins?
Generally, a healthy balanced diet doesn’t require supplementary vitamins.
However, infants have different nutrient needs than children and may require certain supplements, such as vitamin D for breastfed babies.
Healthy children over a year old with a balanced diet don’t require supplements as per recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Instead, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and dairy is adequate for proper growth and nutrition.
Top Six Vitamins and Minerals for Kids
Among the Healthiest Children’s Vitamins, a few stand out as necessary for growing kids.
- Vitamin A is the basis of normal growth and development, tissue and bone repair, healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Good sources include milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow-to-orange vegetables like carrots, and squash.
- Vitamin B boosts metabolism, energy production, and healthy circulatory and nervous systems. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and soybeans.
- Vitamin C builds healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin. Good sources include kiwi, strawberries, and other citrus fruits, also tomatoes, and green vegetables like broccoli.
- To promote bone and tooth formation in a growing child, vitamin D and Calcium are required. Good sources include yogurt, cheese, milk, tofu, salmon, mackerel, calcium-fortified orange juice, and sunlight.
- Iron builds muscle and is essential to healthy red blood cells and for menstruating adolescent girls. Good sources include beef and other red meats, pork, turkey, spinach, beans, and prunes.
Look to Fresh Foods for the Best Vitamins
Forming good habits starts at home. Serving fresh food over convenience or fast food will accustom your child to a healthy eating habit. Your kid won’t like every fruit or veggie and that is fine. Introduce them to a variety of food, retry the item a few days later, experiment with dishes to get them to eat, and the most important point is to eat healthy foods yourself. Kids learn from watching adults and will mimic your habits.
As child obesity becomes an increasing concern worldwide, taking the initiative to a healthy diet from home will prevent your child from developing debilitating illnesses in adult life in the future.
FAQs For Parents
Since nutritional queries are some of the biggest stress for parents, here are some common questions parents have regarding multivitamins.
Which kids require multivitamin or single-nutrient vitamin supplementation
As already mentioned, not all kids need supplements. Certain circumstances benefit kids from that extra dose of pills.
- Finicky eaters with an insufficient diet.
- Kids who don’t eat regular, well-balanced fresh meals.
- Kids with a diet largely consisting of fast food, convenience, and processed food.
- Kids are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, a dairy-free diet, or other restrictions. Calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D deficiencies are common in such cases.
- Have a medical condition such as celiac disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or surgery that causes impaired absorption of nutrients.
- Kids taking medications for chronic medical conditions such as asthma or digestive problems.
- Kids who drink large quantities of carbonated sodas can leach vitamins and minerals from their bodies.
If these deficiencies aren’t fulfilled, the child may develop abnormal growth and developmental delay. For vegan diets, ensure that it has fortified vitamins and minerals for adequate nutrition.
Can I supplement my Kid’s diet with supplements even if their meals are well balanced?
Some parents may deem it useful to add supplements to their kid’s diet whether it is needed or not. The nutrient levels in multivitamins are way below toxicity, and there will be no issue if you add that to your kid’s diet as long as it is below a tolerable upper intake level.
Should I boost my kid with vitamins when they’re getting sick?
Pediatricians agree that loading your kids with supplements at the onset of a cold isn’t very useful. As vitamin C is present in a variety of food, you can easily meet your kid’s requirements through diet alone. Besides, a healthy balanced diet goes a long way toward a quick recovery from common illnesses.
How Much vitamin D Does My Kid need?
The scarce dietary resources of vitamin D coupled with the limitations of your kids staying out in the sun for prolonged periods are primary causes of vitamin D deficiency. This supplement is mainly given to children who are breastfed.
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends:
- Breastfeeding infants up to 1 year of age requires 8.5-10 mg of vitamin D irrespective of your intake.
- Infant formulas are fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients, so supplements aren’t required.
- Children aged 1 to 4 years old require 10 mg of vitamin D daily.
What to look for when choosing a vitamin or multivitamin?
This completely depends on you what your child eats. Consultation from a pediatrician, and dietitian is always reassuring, guiding you to take the necessary steps for your child’s healthy growth. Supplements shouldn’t be administered blindly to children. Getting that celebrity-endorsed brand doesn’t cut it. Popularity doesn’t define quality. Here is what to consider before buying one:
- Quality and safety of ingredients.
- Ingredients that are fillers-free with no artificial flavors, food dyes, or preservatives.
- Dosage is formulated specifically for infants or kids to avoid risking overdose.
- Tested by third-party for safety and quality, such as NSF International, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), Informed-Choice, the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG), and ConsumerLab.com.
- Reputable brands with strict manufacturing standards.
What risks do vitamins and supplements pose to kids?
Too many cooks spoil the broth, the same applies to your child’s diet. Go overboard with adding “healthy” food to your child’s diet, you might end up with discomfort or in some cases, toxicity.
- Going over tolerable upper intake level (UL) is the maximum amount of a nutrient without adverse effects on their health.
- A Diet rich in a specific nutrient as well as supplements can easily reach toxic levels. This also extends to kids taking multivitamins plus nutrient-specific vitamins, like vitamin C or D.
- Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, and/or headaches can occur in vitamin D toxicity. In some cases, high calcium levels can cause calcium or kidney stones.
- Iron is another supplement to be careful of when it comes to toxicity, especially with kids, says Hall. Health Canada’s recommended dietary allowance for kids aged 1-3 is 7 mg daily, and 10 mg for ages 4-8. Or else you risk organ failure or even death.
Consulting a pediatrician helps avoid these pitfalls.
Tips For Giving Multivitamins
- Put vitamins away, out of reach of children, so they don’t treat them like candy.
- Try not to battle over food with your kids or use desserts as a bribe to “clean your plate.” Instead, give your child a chewable vitamin after the meal. Fat-soluble vitamins can only be absorbed with food.
- If your child is taking any medication, make sure to ask your child’s doctor about any drug interactions with certain vitamins or minerals,
- Try a chewable vitamin if your child won’t take a pill or liquid supplement.
- Consider waiting until a child reaches age 4 to start giving a multivitamin supplement unless the child’s doctor suggests otherwise.
- Avoid referring to multivitamins as candy, otherwise, your toddler will constantly crave more.
- Secure the bottle out of your child’s reach to avoid extra doses.
- Slowly coax your finicky eater off multivitamins toward a healthy well-rounded diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, and whole grains.
As we have stressed numerous times throughout the article, parents should first try to fulfill nutritional requirements through diet. Vitamin supplements should be used as a supplement only to your kid’s diet, not as a substitute for it. It is always better to be cautious before giving any multivitamins to your kid and stick to the recommended dosage.
And finally, the opinion of a pediatrician or registered dietitian will help you understand if vitamins will be helpful for your child’s health. Remember every child has different needs.