Do All Kids Need Supplements?
While we would love to say no, the fact is a great many actually do. 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, ﬂavours, food colourings 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.
Precaution: 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.