Vitamin supplements aren’t necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally. Ideally, kids should get their vitamins from a balanced, healthy diet that includes:
- Milk and dairy
- Fresh fruits
- Protein (such as fish, chicken, eggs, lentils, etc.)
- Whole grains (like oatmeal or brown rice)
The USDA recommends that parents use ChooseMyPlate.gov for children as a guideline for how much of certain foods kids and adolescents need for a healthy diet.
When Vitamins Might Be Needed
Even for healthy eaters though, it may be hard to get enough vitamin D, iron, or calcium in your child’s diet during certain times in their lives. There is a limited amount of vitamin D and iron in breast milk. All children may be at risk for too little natural vitamin D during the rainy Washington months. During the teenage years, when your child is growing rapidly, it is important they get enough calcium, for bone growth, and iron, for healthy red blood cell and muscle growth.
Vitamin D, Calcium, and Iron
The following groups of children may need supplementation with vitamin D, calcium, and/or iron. If your child falls in one of these categories, discuss the right amount of supplementation with your pediatrician.
- Premature infant
- Breast feeding infant
- Dairy-free diet
- Teenage female athlete
Daily Multivitamins & Supplements
Discuss with your pediatrician if your child may benefit from a daily multivitamin and/or mineral supplement if they:
- Are a very picky eater
- Don’t eat regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh foods
- Eat a lot of fast food and processed food
- Drink a lot of soda (which can deplete vitamins and minerals)
Treat Vitamins as Medicine
Please make sure you tell your child that vitamins are a kind of medicine, not a snack or candy. Follow label instructions about serving size and dosage instructions because high doses of vitamins can cause toxic symptoms. Too much iron can even be fatal in young children. Keep vitamins and mineral supplements out of the reach of children and make sure the items are stored in child-proof containers.
Remember, “A healthy outside starts from the inside”.
– Robert Urich