Do Kids Need Vitamin Supplements?

Reviewed on 6/17/2021
do kids need vitamin supplements
Here’s what to keep in mind before you buy vitamin supplements for your kid

If your child is eating a wholesome diet, ideally they are getting enough nutrition from their food and won’t need vitamin supplements

You can make sure your kid is getting the right nutrients by regularly offering them a variety of healthy foods. When buying packaged goods, check the food labels and look for fortified foods with vitamins A, D, and other minerals.

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, your kid’s diet may not be enough. Talk with your pediatrician if you’re worried about whether or not your child is getting the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals each day.

If you do give your child multivitamins or vitamin supplements, keep in mind that food is still the best source of nutrients.

How to make sure your kid gets their vitamins

To ensure that your child’s body gets adequate nutrition, you should be aware of what vitamins they need, why they need them, and what foods to add to their daily diet.

Table: Vitamins, their benefits, and food sources
Vitamin Benefits Rich food sources
Vitamin A Healthy skin, normal growth, vision and tissue repair Yellow and orange vegetables and fruits (such as carrots and mangoes), dairy products (fortified ones), chicken liver
Vitamin B (B-complex vitamins) Important for red blood cell production and helps promote metabolism Poultry, meat, fish, soy, milk, eggs, whole grains, and cereals
Vitamin C Fights off infection, speeds up wound healing, and strengthens tissue, muscles, and skin Citrus fruits, such as oranges, limes, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts
Vitamin D Formation and maintenance of strong teeth, necessary for calcium absorption Adequate exposure to sunlight (remember to apply sunscreen) and fortified milk

You can choose foods for your child according to the USDA-recommended site ChooseMyPlate.gov. This site can help you decide the right foods and amounts for your kid based on the nutritional contents of different foods. Some of the daily requirements include:

  • 1½-4 ounce of whole grains per day
  • 1-3 cups of vegetables per day
  • 1-2 cups of fruits per day
  • 2-3 cups of low-fat, fortified milk per day

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When do kids need vitamin supplements?

It’s not easy to keep a close eye on everything your child eats throughout the day, especially if you and your spouse are working professionals and are in a time crunch. 

Your pediatrician may recommend vitamin supplements for kids who:

  • Do not eat nutritious foods regularly
  • Are finicky or fussy about foods
  • Are on medications for chronic conditions, such as asthma
  • Are on a vegan diet or a restricted diet for medical conditions, such as digestive disorders
  • Eat a lot of fast foods, packaged or processed foods, and carbonated drinks

What to keep in mind with vitamin supplements

These days, over-the-counter vitamin supplements designed for kids can be found in abundance. Though they are safe for kids, however, taking higher than recommended doses can be toxic. This is especially true for supplements that contain vitamin A, E, and D. Since excessive amounts of these vitamins in the blood can be dangerous, make sure to talk to your pediatrician about recommended dosages. 

Since most vitamin supplements come in colorful, funny shapes, make sure your child understands that they aren’t candy, but medicine. Take care to keep supplements out of their reach. You can even store the pills in child-proof containers to ensure that your kid can’t get at them when you aren’t looking.

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References
Hoecker JL. Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Should I Give Multivitamins to My Preschooler? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/multivitamins/faq-20058310

WebMD. Vitamins for Kids: Do Healthy Kids Need Supplements? https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/vitamins-for-kids-do-healthy-kids-need-vitamins#1

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