Do Children Need Supplements?
It is surely every parent’s desire to be able to provide their kids well-rounded, home-cooked meals that reek with essential nutrients required for their well-being. However, in these modern, super-busy times, it’s not always possible. In many household, even mummy works and that alone makes it difficult to ensure that the family is served self-prepared meals every day. That’s why pediatricians may recommend a daily multivitamin or mineral supplement for children who need them to close any possible nutritional gaps.
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Supplements: A safety net
Many children eat sugar-laden and nutrient-void foods, so a daily multivitamin will provide a nutritional safety net. It is possible to get everything you need from whole foods, but we live in a society that doesn’t place a strong emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods. Kids usually don’t get all the vitamins they need, and many children spend more time indoors, which puts them at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
Every child should take a multivitamin to help provide additional nutrients. Much of the food we buy now is low-quality and we need to provide our children with much better nutrition. Furthermore, studies have shown that many kids are deficient in at least one type of nutrient, regardless of socioeconomic status. It’s always a good idea to round out children’s vitamin intake with supplements. It’s best to choose a type they will actually enjoy and make it a daily habit – The variety with different flavors is always a hit.
Vitamins help the human body to function well. They also aid in the growth and development of growing bodies. Children should get vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat every day and this means they have to eat a variety of foods because some foods have more vitamins and minerals than others.
Vitamins fall into two categories:
Fat soluble and water soluble:
A, D, E, and K — dissolve in fat and can be stored in your body.
C and the B-complex vitamins (such as vitamins B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, and folate) — need to dissolve in water before your body can absorb them. Because of this, your body can’t store these vitamins. Any vitamin C or B that your body doesn’t use passes through your system and is lost (mostly when you pee). So you need a fresh supply of these vitamins every day.
While vitamins are organic substances (made by plants or animals), minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and water and are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals. A growing body needs larger amounts of some minerals, such as calcium, to grow and stay healthy. Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc are called trace minerals because only very small amounts of them are needed each day.
Do all kids need supplements?
While we would love to say no, the fact is a great many actually do. As mentioned earlier, it’s not an easy task to ensure that a child gets all the required nutrients to stay healthy unless there are regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods available daily. Parents can look at vitamins as an insurance policy to round up what their kids are getting from their diet.
Fussy, picky eating habits also get in the way of gaining essential nutrients. If your child happens to pick and choose only among foods he likes, he may be losing out on important nutrients on a daily basis. In cases like these, a daily nutritional supplement comes in handy to fill in the gaps in nutrition needed for healthy growth and development. Kids on a vegetarian diet or other restricted diet also need supplements to make up for what could be lacking in their diets.
Also on the list of kids who would benefit from supplements are those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or digestive problems, especially if they’re taking medications (be sure to talk with your child’s doctor first).
Talk with your child’s doctor if you’re concerned whether your child is getting the recommended level of vitamins and minerals. A multivitamin might also be helpful for your child if he or she has a delay in physical and developmental growth (failure to thrive).
What makes a multivitamin good?
If your doctor or healthcare provider agrees that taking a multivitamin is appropriate, you’ll want a high-quality product for your child. Here are some criteria for choosing a good multivitamin:
- Look for multivitamins that use whole ingredient
- Iron should be included
- Artificial sugars, flavors, food colorings and preservatives should be excluded
- They should be suitable for children (read: tasty and chewable!)
Ramifications of not consuming adequate vitamins and minerals
A chronic deficiency in any nutrient can lead to health problems in growing children. Lack of iron can cause a significant delay in cognitive functions. Not enough zinc can cause dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and weakened immunity. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause obesity, weakened immunity and weakened bones.
Children with poor diets can also be under their ideal weight if they aren’t consuming adequate calories. They can also be overweight or even obese when their caloric intake is much too high and they are sedentary. Keep in mind that even overweight children, despite the high intake of food, can still be malnourished! If they don’t eat enough from certain food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains, they are most likely not consuming the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
If your child’s doctor recommends a multivitamin, choose one that is designed for your child’s age group and doesn’t provide more than 100 percent of the Daily Value of vitamins and minerals. In addition, keep multivitamins out of your child’s reach and make it clear that they aren’t candy.