If a child is eating a healthy and complete diet consisting of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, then most likely, they do not need a supplement. However, if a child excludes whole food groups, suffers from a chronic disease, does not get regular sunlight exposure or does not drink vitamin-D fortified milk, then she may benefit from vitamin supplements.
Which Supplements Do Kids Need?
Essential Fatty Acids
If a child isn't eating fish at least three times per week or seeds every day, she's missing out on those essential fatty acids that help the brain develop and boost IQ. A supplement containing GLA (omega-6) and DHA and EPA (omega-3) can be added to her diet.
Recent studies show 40% of infants and toddlers are not getting enough vitamin D, which is crucial in building strong bones and maintaining the immune system. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supplementing vitamin D in a child's diet beginning at 2 months of age. Even infants who are breastfeeding need vitamin D supplementation, as well as the mother.
Vitamins B, C
Since fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, children who do not eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables are likely to experience frequent colds or infections since vitamin C is needed to boost immunity. Vitamin C will also provide added protection for the body against free radical damage. If a child's diet consists mainly of sugary, refined, and processed foods instead of fruits, vegetables and healthy grains, she may be lacking B vitamins, which are important to nervous system functioning and are essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Choosing Supplements for Kids
- There are many children's multivitamin and mineral supplements on the market which provide all of the nutrients a child needs in one single serving, with both chewable and liquid formulas available in a variety of colors and flavors to make them more palatable to children. A child's multivitamin should not exceed the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of any nutrient listed on the label.
- Always consult a pediatrician before adding any supplements to a child's diet.
- Many young children are picky eaters, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll develop nutritional deficiencies. Children don't need large amounts of vitamins and minerals. In addition, many common foods are fortified with important nutrients — so your son may be getting more vitamins and minerals than you think.
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