Vitamins for Kids
Making sure our kids eat a well-balanced diet can be extremely difficult. Kids are notorious for being picky eaters, and making nutrient-rich foods that meet all the daily requirements demands a lot of time and energy. So although kids don’t have to take a daily multivitamin, many parents choose this route to fill in the dietary gaps.
Although all nutrients are important, six are especially critical for children as they grow: A, C, D, the B vitamins, calcium and iron. Vitamin A promotes normal growth and development, tissue and bone repair and healthy skin, eyes and immune responses. B vitamins (B2, B3, B6 and B12) aid metabolism, energy production and healthy circulatory and nervous systems. Vitamin C promotes healthy muscles, connective tissue and skin. Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth formation and helps the body absorb calcium. Calcium itself builds strong bones, and iron builds muscle and is essential to healthy red blood cells (WebMD.com).
Some parents think of multivitamins as an insurance policy—something they give their kids to insure any holes in their diet are being filled (TodaysParent.com). Make sure to keep the vitamins out of your children’s reach, because kids can have a hard time differentiating between vitamins and candy. Most vitamins have a level of sugar in them to appeal to young taste buds, something to be aware of if you are limiting sweets in their diet.
Talk to your child’s doctor if you are concerned your child has nutritional deficiencies before you start him or her on a multivitamin, because like everything else, it comes with risks. Ingesting too-high doses of vitamins and minerals can be toxic. When selecting a multivitamin, make sure the daily allowance does not exceed 100 percent, as this can lead to dangerous concentration levels in the blood (WebMD.com). Also, some medications can interfere with the multivitamin and affect absorption (MayoClinic.org). Talk to your child’s doctor about what his typical day-to-day diet looks like and ask for recommendations about adding not only a multivitamin but also possibly supplementing omega fish oil, fiber or additional vitamin D.
Jessica Heine is a labor and delivery nurse. She lives in Olathe with her family.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.