What To Know About Kids And Vitamins
As an adult, you may have a pretty involved vitamin and supplement regiment by now. You might take a daily vitamin, plus fish oils for cholesterol and mental clarity, a probiotic for your sensitive tummy, magnesium to help you sleep and prevent cramps, zinc to prevent colds and the flu, and who knows what else. As far as you know, it’s nothing but a good thing to arm your body with all of these vitamins and supplements, so it stands to reason that maybe you should give them to your kids, too. But children’s bodies are still developing, and have very different needs than adult ones. Their metabolisms work faster. They need a different amount of sleep. They’re plagued by different issues, and have different strengths as far as immunity and overall wellbeing go. So before you feed your little one that gel capsule, get these facts about kids and vitamins.
These are the important vitamins for kids
Vitamin A: for bone and tissue growth, immunity, skin and eye health, Vitamin B: for energy, circulation, metabolism, and the nervous system, Vitamin C: for muscle growth, healthy connective tissue, and healthy skin, Vitamin D: for healthy bone and tooth development, Calcium: to build strong bones, and Iron: to build healthy muscles and boost red blood cells.
Most kids don’t need them
Most children don’t need supplements, so long as they are eating a well-rounded diet. At such a young age, they haven’t developed many of the habits adults have that can deplete the body of vitamins and minerals.
Food is always the best source
No matter what age you are, food is always the best source for vitamins and minerals. It’s very hard to verify the potency and quality of supplements, but food provides pure sources of important vitamins and minerals.
Even picky eaters may be okay
Picky eaters may need supplements, but many still get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their limited food group. If your child eats cereal, milk, and juice, for example, he is getting plenty of vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, and vitamin B.
Those with strict diets may need them
Children on strict diets that cut out major food groups, such as gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian diets will need to take supplements since these diets eliminate some of the only foods that deliver their important nutrients.
Those with allergies may need them
Children with food allergies may also require supplements, if the foods they cannot eat are major and main sources of important nutrients. Those with gluten allergies or those who are lactose intolerant will certainly need supplements.
Soda drinkers need more supplements
Soda can actually remove vitamins from the body—this is one of those “adult” habits that leech important nutrients from our systems. If you allow your child to have a lot of soda, he likely needs some supplements.
Those with chronic diseases may need them
If your child has a chronic disease, he may need supplements. Conditions that affect the digestive system, like Crohn’s, interrupt nutrient absorption and can make it hard for the body to get all the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Those with developmental issues may need them
If your child isn’t developing at a normal rate, talk to your doctor. Unless a specific condition is at work, your child could be lacking in some nutrients.
Omega-3s and tummy aches
While many adults take them for cholesterol purposes, Omega-3 supplements like fish oil can cause stomach aches, diahrrea, and bloating in kids.
Yes, get the kids vitamins
Don’t buy regular vitamins in bulk for yourself and your kids—children need the vitamins specifically made for kids. These contain the proper amounts of everything for their little bodies.
Keep daily intake to 100 percent
Don’t buy kids vitamins that have more than 100 percent of the daily needs of any vitamin or mineral. Children do not need any excess amount of vitamins or minerals.
Check with your doctor about medications
Some medications interact poorly with vitamins. St. John’s wort, for example, interacts with cancer and seizure medication, as well as antidepressants. This is just one of the many supplements that could be problematic if your child is on medication, so speak to your doctor before giving any vitamins.
Limit empty calorie foods
If you need another reason to limit foods like candy and chips, here’s one: they could fill your child up so much that he has no room left for nutritious foods. Adults may force down a salmon salad after eating too many donuts, but it’s hard to get kids to do that.
Kids can get their vitamins from this food
So long as your child consumes plenty of grains (like cereal, pasta, and rice), fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy (yogurt, cottage cheese, skim milk), chicken, eggs, tofu, meat, legumes, and fish, he shouldn’t really need supplements.