As kids grow, it’s essential that they get all the vitamins and nutrients they need for optimal development. If you’re a parent of a picky eater, have special dietary needs like vegan/vegetarianism or a condition such as celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, or inflammatory bowel disease, you know that it’s easier said than done in terms of trying to get all the things your kid will need to grow up strong and healthy and avoid serious deficiencies. What vitamins do kids need? And what should you be looking for if you’re considering supplementation for your child? If you’re concerned about your child getting enough of their vitamins and minerals always talk to your healthcare provider or paediatrician to see if supplementation is right for your child.
Here’s what to look for in a multi-vitamin for kids. Be sure that the vitamin amounts are appropriate for child’s age based on your paediatrician’s recommendations.
Vitamin A is essential for normal growth and development as well as tissue and bone repair. It helps keep skin, eyes and the immune systems healthy. Sources of vitamin A in foods include dairy products like milk, eggs, and cheese, as well as yellow and orange vegetables and fruit such as carrots, sweet potato, mango, and squash.
Vitamin B supports our metabolism, energy levels and keeps our circulatory and nervous systems healthy. The B2, B3, B6, and B12 vitamins are especially important and even more so for those children who are on a plant-based diet. Good sources of vitamin B include soybeans, meat, chicken, and dairy products like cheese, eggs, and milk.
Vitamin D is especially important for kids as it helps promote bone and teeth growth and may also help prevent disease later in life. Vitamin D is a vitamin that many adults and kids are lacking due to our modern lifestyles since the best way to get vitamin D is through sunlight. Supplementation of vitamin D will likely be recommended by your paediatrician, especially for kids who are breastfed since mothers are not likely to have enough vitamin D themselves while baby formula is fortified with additional vitamin D.
Vitamin C is essential to help our body heal, fight off infections, as well as strengthen muscles, tissues and skin. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, spinach and broccoli.
Along with vitamin D, calcium is also essential for bone and teeth development and if kids don’t get enough in their youth it can cause growth issues as well as weak, brittle, and porous bones. Calcium can be found in milk, yoghurt, cheese, and tofu.
We need iron to help build muscle and healthy red blood cells. Iron is especially important for kids during growth spurts or for menstruating girls. Good sources of iron include red meat, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals.
Kids on a plant-based or limited diet, perhaps from picky eating, may be prone to a zinc deficiency. A zinc deficiency may slow your child’s growth as it assists in cell growth, metabolism as well as their immune system and functions which help to keep viruses and bacteria at bay.
Supplementation Tips for Kids
*Many kid’s multivitamins look and taste like candy so be sure to keep them out of their reach to avoid toxicities.
*If you are bottle-feeding your child, be sure to note the number of vitamins and minerals in the formula before adding further supplementation so that you don’t go over their daily limit.
*Give supplementation after meals as some vitamins are fat-soluble and are absorbed better with food. This will also help to avoid any stomach upsets.