All children need a diet rich in vital vitamins and minerals to ensure they stay healthy.
As a parent, you’re responsible for ensuring they receive them.
However, it’s hard to know exactly what vitamins and minerals children need. A balanced, complete diet is a great first step, but depending on your children’s age, sex, and activity level, they’ll require different amounts.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of multivitamins for kids.
- Should you give multivitamins to kids?
- At what age should your kids have multivitamins?
- What should be in multivitamins for kids?
By the end, you’ll have a full understanding of whether or not your kids should be taking multivitamin supplements or not.
Let’s jump in.
Do My Kids Need Multivitamins?
Before you buy multivitamins, consider if your kids need them in the first place.
First of all, we’d recommend that you consult your child’s doctor or a registered dietitian. They’ll be able to provide you with a perspective unique to your child.
As well as this, depending on your child’s age, they’ll require different amounts of vitamins.
Dietary Reference Intakes for Key Vitamins
|Vitamin||DRI for 1-3 years||DRI for 4–8 years|
Data source: The Food and Nutrition Board
This will also depend on how active your child is. If they’re running around all day, they’ll likely require more vitamins and nutrients to sustain healthy growth.
There are also a few key reasons why your child may need multivitamins.
- If your child is on a plant-based diet
- If they have a condition affecting vitamin absorption
- If they’re a picky eater
- If they’re breastfed
If your kid is at risk of vitamin deficiency for any of these reasons, or if your doctor recommends it, multivitamins will be useful to ensure they aren’t at risk of growth deficiencies.
These reasons also don’t mean you should give your kids extra vitamins because taking too many vitamins provides a risk of “megadosing.”
This can “produce toxic symptoms, ranging from nausea to rashes to headaches and sometimes to even more severe adverse effects”, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
At What Age Can My Child Take Multivitamins?
Kids can take multivitamins at any age, assuming your doctor recommends it, and they’re not exceeding their Daily Reference Intake (DRI) of vitamins and minerals.
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t take an official stance on whether your kids should take multivitamins or not, and they say that if your child is eating a rich diet of varied foods, they’ll likely get the vitamins they need from that.
Research shows that nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is key to optimizing their brain development for the rest of their life.
If you do decide to give your kids multivitamins, make sure to buy multivitamins specifically made for kids and not for adults.
Multivitamins for kids will ensure the RDA of vital vitamins and minerals isn’t exceeded, which could lead to health complications.
In the next section, we’ll take a look at what ingredients you should check that your child’s multivitamins have in them.
What Should be in Multivitamins for Kids?
Vitamin A is an essential ingredient in any kids multivitamin.
It’s important for eyesight development, bone growth, mucus membranes, skin, and boosts your child’s immune system to help their body fight off infections.
Every child needs a diet containing Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is found in foods such as:
- Milk (including breast milk)
- Orange fruits and vegetables
- Dark green leafy vegetables
If your kid doesn’t regularly eat foods naturally rich in Vitamin A, a multivitamin supplement may help.
Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12
B Vitamins are vital for kids. Two of the most well-known are Vitamin B6 and B12.
Vitamin B-6 helps with a variety of body functions, such as breaking down proteins and carbs and supporting immune function and brain health.
Vitamin B-12 creates red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, which makes it vital for kids to maintain their energy levels throughout the day.
B Vitamins occur naturally in a range of food, such as:
- Dairy products
If your child doesn’t regularly eat animal-based products, they’re at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency, so we’d recommend providing supplemental Vitamin B.
Even otherwise healthy people can be at risk of Vitamin B deficiency, so if you’re unsure if your child is getting enough, have a chat with your doctor or a registered nutritionist.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps control infections, heal wounds, and is needed to help make collagen. It plays a part in many bodily functions, including your nervous system, immune system, bones, blood, and hormone production.
It’s found in foods like:
- Citrus fruits
- Bell peppers
If your kids eat healthily, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be getting enough Vitamin C.
Vitamin D is another important vitamin for kids available in multivitamins.
It’s vital for healthy bone growth and helps the gut absorb calcium. Vitamin D sufficiency helps prevent rickets in children, and without it, bones can become thin and brittle.
If your child is very active, Vitamin D is vital.
As well as this, if your child is on a primarily plant-based diet and consumes milk alternatives that are naturally lower in Vitamin D, a supplement is a good idea as it’s important in early development.
Kids can absorb Vitamin D through the sun, but it’s important to keep their skin safe from burning, as that can cause other health complications for them.
Vitamin D is found naturally in foods like:
- Milk fortified with Vitamin D
- Fortified cereal
If your child isn’t eating or drinking Vitamin D rich food and drinks, a supplement is a good idea.
Vitamin E has many important roles in the body due to its antioxidant activity. Additionally, Vitamin E helps kids maintain healthy skin and eyes, and it strengthens the body’s immune system.
It’s found in a range of foods, such as:
- Whole grains
- Leafy green vegetables
- Egg yolks
- Nuts and seeds
Other Useful Vitamins
Good multivitamins will usually contain Biotin. It’s a B complex vitamin that helps kids convert their food into energy. It also helps keep your hair, liver, and nervous system in good shape.
You can find biotin in foods like:
- Egg yolks
- Whole grains and cereals
Folate is another B vitamin that’s needed to help make red and white blood cells, produce DNA and RNA, and convert carbs into energy.
It’s crucial that kids have a source of folate as they’re growing.
Foods rich in folate include:
Should I Give Multivitamins to Children?
Most healthy children who are eating healthily, and staying active, don’t need multivitamins to stay healthy.
If their diet contains a wide variety of healthy foods, such as those listed in the bullet points we’ve added to each Vitamin above, they’ll most likely have enough vitamins and minerals.
But, if they’re a picky eater, they may have lower levels of certain vitamins and minerals than if they ate a wider variety of foods.
It’s also possible for fat-soluble vitamin or minerals to be toxic to the liver if taken in excess amounts, so if your kids do take multivitamins, make sure they don’t take more than the recommended daily allowance.
Multivitamins for kids can be a great idea if they’re not getting the necessary vitamins and minerals from their diet.
We’d always recommend checking with your child’s doctor or a dietician before they start using them.
Kids can take multivitamins at any age, and it’s important to stick to the DRI for the vitamins they’re taking.
Take your time to review the ingredient list, and ensure your multivitamins provide your child with the right amount of vitamins to support their growth and development but don’t cross their DRI and potentially cause harm.
Ensuring your children meet the DRI of important vitamins will help their brain development and have benefits throughout their whole life.
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