All parents want their little ones to grow and thrive. To do that, kids need a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. But what happens if your child rejects nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables? While many kids get adequate nutrition from a balanced diet, it might be necessary to incorporate one or more vitamin supplements into your child’s routine.
Between sugary cereals and tempting Happy Meals, it can be hard to make good choices when it comes to your child’s diet. Overall, kids need the same nutrients as adults—just on a smaller scale. Nutrients like calcium and vitamin D help kids to build strong bones, while iron, iodine and vitamins A, B6, B12, and D are crucial for brain development.
It’s essential to incorporate healthy amounts of these vitamins into your child’s daily caloric consumption, which should fall between about 1,000 and 1,400 daily for kids under nine and between 1,400 and 2,600 calories for kids ages nine to 13. So, how can you be sure your child is getting adequate nutrition? You can start by consulting the National Institutes of Health’s Dietary Reference Intakes, or DRIs. Our pediatric care team at Kare Health & Wellness can walk you through these guidelines as well.
Does My Child Need Vitamin Supplements?
The truth is that most kids could benefit from vitamin supplementation. This is due to a few factors; first, the fact that many kids are picky eaters, leading them to reach for tried-and-true favorites like chicken nuggets over and over again. Additionally, today’s food supply is generally less nutrient-dense than in decades past. This is thanks in part to modern agricultural practices—the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, for example—which strip nutrients from the soil in which the food grows.
Combined with extensive food processing, and you have new generations of fruits and vegetables that are significantly less nutritious than their previous iterations. There are also several special circumstances that may necessitate nutritional supplementation for your child:
- Your child follows a dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan diet, both of which may put kids at risk of certain vitamin deficiencies
- Your child is an extremely picky eater, leading to low intake of omega-3 fatty acids and other key nutrients
- Your child has a condition that leads to reduced sun exposure
- Your child has a condition like celiac disease, Hashimoto’s disease, Type 1 diabetes or autism, all of which can affect nutrient absorption
Choosing a Vitamin Brand
If your child meets one or more of the criteria listed above, they may be a good candidate for vitamin supplementation. But how to choose a vitamin brand when there are so many options on the shelves? As a good rule of thumb, look for supplements that are free of artificial colors and sweeteners. However, most kids don’t want to choke down chalky pills, and they can’t benefit from a vitamin supplement if they refuse to take it.
If your child is keen on gummy vitamins, try not to worry about a little bit of added sugar—just try to steer them toward a diet rich in whole foods the rest of the time. However, you’ll want to check the label on the vitamin supplement to ensure your child is benefiting from the recommended dose. In some cases, your child will need to take several vitamins to get the amount of nutrients indicated on the label. Ultimately, work with your doctor to source a reputable, ethical vitamin brand that your child will love.
Like a good meal, vitamin sufficiency doesn’t last forever. Your child’s body is constantly growing and changing, which is why you need to keep a close eye on their vitamin consumption, even supplementing their diet with several vitamins at intervals throughout the day. For that reason, we recommend an in-person consult with our experts to help determine which nutrients may be missing from your child’s diet.
Not sure where to start? Reach out to Kare Health and Wellness at 417-881-4994. Our functional medicine approach to pediatric care in Springfield Missouri will help set your child up for lifelong wellness. We carry several child-friendly supplement options in our office including probiotics, fish oil, multivitamins and immune support products, the latter of which can be extremely important during cold and flu season.