As a parent, it's normal to want to ensure your kids are happy and well. After all, we want nothing less than for them to thrive in every aspect of their lives.
From the moment they exist, the most important way we can deliveris through the nutrition we provide them. But as they grow from babies into children, getting them to eat the right foods often gets more challenging. If you've got a picky eater, you know what we're talking about.
When you feel like your kids aren't getting what they need, it can be tempting to turn toto fill the gaps. Here's what you need to know about vitamins for children and which ones you should avoid.
Do kids need vitamin supplements?
No, most healthy children do not need vitamin supplements. There is no better source of vital nutrients and vitamins than food. According to medical providers, even picky eaters are still likely to get adequate nutrients.
If you're concerned about whether your child is getting proper vitamins and nutrients, the safest bet is to speak with a pediatric dietitian. A pediatric dietitian is an expert in the nutritional needs of children and can help you develop a nutrition plan for your little one.
However, some children may need supplements due to health or situational issues. Supplementing may be beneficial if your child has:
- A vitamin D deficiency
- Developmental or growth delays
- A chronic disease
- Lead poisoning
- Celiac disease
- A limited or restrictive diet (such as vegan or vegetarian diets)
5 vitamins and supplements not for children
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for good health. In fact, even during pregnancy, fetuses need vitamin A for organ development, gene transcription, visual function and a properly functioning immune system.
Depending on your kid's age, their recommended daily allowance of vitamin A ranges from 400 to 700 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents.
There are two main forms of vitamin A in our diets. First, preformed vitamin A comes primarily from animal products, foods that have been fortified and supplements. The second form is provitamin A carotenoids that are found in plant foods like fruit and vegetables.
Both plant and animal food sources contain vitamin A, so it is untypical to need to supplement. In fact, too much vitamin A can be harmful to both adults and children, especially preformed vitamin A. If you notice things like blurred vision, dry skin, headaches, light sensitivity, nausea and weakness, your child may be getting too much preformed vitamin A.
We've all heard about the benefits of vitamin C for kids to help them fight off infections, but vitamin C is important for kids in other ways, too. It helps keep their bones, blood, gums and other body tissues in good working order and helps them better absorb the iron in their food.
Kids from birth to adulthood need anywhere from 40 to 65 milligrams of vitamin C per day. But like most other vitamins, adequate vitamin C can be gotten from a typical diet.
Too much vitamin C can have some undesirable side effects in kids. If your child has unexplained diarrhea, nausea or stomach cramps, too much vitamin C may be the culprit.
Iron is an important mineral that helps the human body carry oxygen from the lungs to the other organs and tissues.
Without the right amount of iron, our organs and tissues can't get adequate oxygen. Iron deficiency in kids can be quite detrimental to their well-being and cause things like fatigue, poor appetite, slow growth and even behavioral problems. But too much iron can also have serious effects. Watch for signs of iron toxicity, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, which may lead to dehydration.
Depending on their age and gender, your child may need anywhere from .27 mg to 11 mg per day. Unless you have a breastfeeding infant, the need to supplement iron for children is not typical.
Without any supplementing, our bodies make the hormone melatonin to regulate sleep cycles. Supplements found over the counter are a synthetic form of melatonin created to help those who may experience a deficiency.
Sleep issues are usually perfectly normal for babies and children, and they are rarely due to a melatonin deficiency. As with most other supplements for children, melatonin should not be considered without a thorough pediatrician evaluation and recommendation.
If, per a pediatrician's recommendation, your little one is taking a melatonin supplement, be aware of symptoms of too much melatonin, like bedwetting, dizziness, nightmares, mood changes, grogginess and headaches.
The odds are high that your child may eagerly accept a fruity chewable multivitamin each day, but that doesn't mean they need one. Most children get adequate vitamins and nutrients from their food.
If, per their pediatrician's advice, you give your child a daily multivitamin, be sure there isn't more than 100% of the daily recommended value of any included vitamin or mineral. And perhaps just as important, ensure the child understands that even if the vitamin looks or tastes like candy, it should not be eaten like candy. Make sure to also keep supplement bottles securely locked away to avoid accidental overdoses.
The bottom line on vitamins for children
For the average healthy child, the best way to ensure they get the vitamins and minerals they need is through a balanced diet. This is great news for parents because it means that buying and regulating supplements is unnecessary.
Supplementing is not just unnecessary but can sometimes be toxic for children. Take care to be sure your own supplements are not accessible to children. If you think your child has accidentally ingested a potentially harmful substance, contact Poison Control or a medical provider immediately.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.