To give your children the best chance of healthy development and growth, vitamins and minerals should be incorporated into their every day.
Through a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, there should be no concern about your children getting the right dose of all the nutrients they need for a happy and healthy body and mind. That said, there are certain children that may need supplements.
When giving your child supplements, there are plenty of kid-friendly options on the market. A children’s multivitamin with iron, for example, can often be bought in a chewable gummy and flavored with tasty fruit juices. This is a great way to ensure your children are getting the vitamins they need while making it feel like a little sweet treat for them.
What nutrients do children actually need?
The nutrients needed can differ from child to child. It depends on a number of variables from age, gender, growth, and activity level.
As a general rule of thumb, children should be consuming 1,000-1,400 calories of nutritionally rich food and drink a day from ages 2-8. As they get older, the recommended calorie intake increases.
In terms of nutrients, children need the same vitamins and minerals as adults, just in small doses. These small doses are just the right amount to encourage strong bones and healthy brain development.
Supplements for babies
The US department of agriculture dietary guidelines recommend against giving babies over the age of 1 supplement. If they are provided a healthy and balanced diet, there should be no need.
If you breastfeed your child, they will have different nutrient requirements than those that aren’t breastfed. Breastfed babies, for example, may need additional vitamin D, or the mother can take a supplement which will then be added to the breastmilk.
When your child might need supplements
As mentioned above, most happy and healthy children who eat a balanced diet shouldn’t need additional supplements and vitamins. That said, there are certain situations in which your child may benefit from supplements.
Vegan and vegetarian diets
For example, if you’re bringing up your child on a vegan or vegetarian diet, they may have a deficiency in calcium, iron, and vitamin D. These deficiencies can be topped up with supplements or fortified foods.
IBD & celiac disease
Conditions like celiac disease and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) all complicate the absorption process in the body, meaning your child might need a little help from supplement vitamins. These diseases often damage the gut and its ability to absorb micronutrients like zinc and iron.
If your child is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the difficulty to absorb fats could lead to a deficiency in vitamins A, D, E, and K. As such, bringing a vitamin supplement into their routine could help.
While not an official condition, if your child is a super picky eater, it could reduce the chances for them to naturally intake all the vitamins and minerals they need. Studies have shown a strong link between picky eating and a low intake of iron and zinc.
To answer the question as to whether your child needs supplements, generally speaking, it is no. Every child is different, however, and their needs for supplements could be different, even from sibling to sibling. If you have any concerns, be sure to speak to your GP.