As a parent, you want to make sure your children are happy and healthy. After all, we want nothing less than for them to be successful in every aspect of their lives.
From the moment they exist, the most important way we can deliverthrough the nutrition we provide them. But as they grow from babies to children, getting them to eat the right foods often becomes more difficult. If you have a picky eater, you know what we are talking about.
When you feel like your kids aren’t getting what they need, it can be tempting to reach outto fill in the gaps. Here’s what you need to know about vitamins for kids and which ones to avoid.
Do children need vitamin supplements?
No, most healthy children do not need vitamin supplements. There is no better source of essential nutrients and vitamins than food. According to medical providers, even picky eaters will likely still be getting adequate nutrients.
If you’re concerned about your child’s getting the right vitamins and nutrients, the safest thing to do is to speak to a pediatric dietitian. A pediatric dietitian is an expert on children’s nutritional needs and can help you develop a nutrition plan for your child.
However, some children may need supplements due to health or situational issues. Supplementation may be beneficial if your child:
5 vitamins and supplements not for children
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for good health. In fact, fetuses also need vitamin A during pregnancy for organ development, gene transcription, visual function, and a properly functioning immune system.
Depending on your child’s age, the recommended daily dose of vitamin A is between 400 and 700 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents.
There are two main forms of vitamin A in our diet. First, preformed vitamin A comes primarily from animal products, fortified foods, and dietary supplements. The second form is provitamin A carotenoids, found in plant foods like fruits and vegetables.
Both plant and animal food sources contain vitamin A, so supplementation is atypical. In fact, too much vitamin A can be harmful to both adults and children, especially preformed vitamin A. If you’re noticing things like blurred vision, dry skin, headaches, photosensitivity, nausea, and weakness, your child may be getting too much preformed vitamin A.
We’ve all heard about the benefits of vitamin C for children to help them fight off infection, but vitamin C is important for children in other ways too. It helps keep their bones, blood, gums and other body tissues in good condition and helps them better absorb the iron in their diet.
Children from birth through adulthood need between 40 and 65 milligrams of vitamin C per day. But like most other vitamins, adequate vitamin C can be obtained through a typical diet.
Too much vitamin C can have some undesirable side effects in children. If your child has unexplained diarrhea, nausea, or stomach cramps, too much vitamin C may be to blame.
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 cannot get enough oxygen. Iron deficiency in children can be very detrimental to their well-being, causing things like fatigue, loss of appetite, slow growth, and even behavioral problems. But too much iron can also have serious consequences. Watch for signs of iron toxicity, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration.
Depending on age and gender, your child needs between 0.27 mg and 11 mg per day. Unless you have a breastfeeding child, the need for iron supplementation is not typical for children.
Without supplementation, our bodies make the hormone melatonin to regulate the sleep cycle. Over-the-counter supplements are a synthetic form of melatonin designed to help people who may be deficient.
Sleep problems are usually perfectly normal for babies and children, and they are rarely due to a lack of melatonin. As with most other nutritional supplements for children, melatonin should not be considered without thorough pediatric evaluation and recommendation.
If your child is taking a melatonin supplement as recommended by a pediatrician, be on the lookout for symptoms of too much melatonin, such as bedwetting, dizziness, nightmares, mood swings, lightheadedness, and headaches.
Chances are your child will eagerly accept a fruity chewable multivitamin every day, but that doesn’t mean they need one. Most children get adequate vitamins and nutrients from their diet.
If you are giving your child a daily multivitamin, as advised by their pediatrician, make sure there is no more than 100% of the recommended daily value of any vitamin or mineral included. And perhaps just as important, make sure the child understands that even if the vitamin looks or tastes like a candy, it should not be eaten like a candy. Also, make sure you keep the bottles of supplements securely sealed to avoid accidental overdoses.
The conclusion on vitamins for children
For an average healthy child, a balanced diet is the best way to ensure they are getting the vitamins and minerals they need. This is great news for parents as it eliminates the need to buy and regulate supplements.
Supplementation is not only unnecessary, it can sometimes be toxic to children. Make sure your own supplements are not accessible to children. If you think your child has accidentally ingested a potentially harmful substance, contact a poison control center or doctor 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 healthcare provider with any questions about a medical condition or health goals.