As a parent, you know that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what is and isn’t good for your kids.
One hot topic that many parenting websites and magazines cover is children’s multivitamins.
Some sources say they’re essential for your child’s health. Meanwhile, others say your kids will be just fine without them. Who do you believe?
It’s confusing, for sure, but we’re here to set the record straight.
Read on to learn more about children’s multivitamins and whether or not your child should be taking them.
Does Every Child Need a Multivitamin?
The short answer is no.
Most children don’t benefit from taking multivitamins. As long as your child is eating a varied diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, meat, and seafood, they should be getting everything they need.
Problems with Multivitamins
Children’s multivitamins can actually cause a number of problems for kids and parents.
Children can get sick if they take too many, which is a real possibility since many manufacturers make their products taste like candy.
Vitamins also can lull parents into a false sense of security, causing them to think their child is getting sufficient nutrients when they actually aren’t.
Multivitamins are not the most efficient way for kids to get nutrients, either. The body digests vitamins and minerals better when they come from food, rather than a pill.
Finally, multivitamins are expensive. Most doctors agree that parents are better off spending their money on healthy food instead.
Who Should Take Children’s Multivitamins?
That being said, there are some groups of children who can benefit from taking children’s multivitamins.
Some of these groups include:
Children Who Eat Vegetarian or Vegan Diets
It is possible to get all the essential vitamins and minerals from a vegetarian or vegan diet.
However, it is more difficult for children to get all that they need. This is because, in some cases, it takes a very large quantity of certain plant-based foods to provide kids with a sufficient amount of nutrients.
Children with Restricted Diets
Some children are picky eaters and refuse to eat fruits or vegetables.
Multivitamins are not a long-term solution for these children. But, while you’re working with them to diversify their diet, a multivitamin can help prevent deficiencies.
Children with Certain Medical Conditions
Some children also have medical conditions or take medications that interfere with nutrient absorption.
If your child takes medication regularly or has a chronic condition or takes a medication regularly, talk to a specialist like those found at The Pediatric Center and ask them if they think supplementation is necessary.
Which Vitamins are Essential for Children?
In order to ensure your child is eating a balanced diet, you first need to know what a balanced diet looks like.
Some of the vitamins and minerals that every child should be consuming (unless their doctor says otherwise, of course) include:
Vitamin A is essential for normal growth and development, as well as tissue and bone repair. It also promotes healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses.
Good sources of Vitamin A include milk, eggs, and cheese. Kids should also eat lots of yellow and orange vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and yams.
B vitamins, including vitamins B2, B3, B6, and B12, aid in metabolism and energy production. They also are essential for a healthy circulatory and nervous system.
Good sources of B vitamins include chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, milk, beans, cheese, and soybeans.
Vitamin C promotes healthy connective tissue, skin, and muscles.
Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries, and kiwi. It’s also found in tomatoes and green vegetables like broccoli.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bone and tooth formation. It also helps the body absorb calcium.
The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. But, it can also be found in milk and fatty fish like mackerel and salmon.
Calcium also helps build strong, healthy bones.
It’s found in milk, cheese, tofu, and yogurt. You can also buy calcium-fortified orange juice for children who can’t tolerate dairy.
Iron is necessary for healthy red blood cells and muscle building.
It can be found in beef and other forms of red meat, turkey, pork, spinach, beans, and prunes.
How to Get Your Child to Take Vitamins
If your child does need to take a multivitamin, these tips will help you get them to take them with as little fuss as possible.
Store Them Out of Reach
In order to make them more appealing to children, many vitamin manufacturing companies have made their products extra sweet.
This does make them more appealing, but it also means that some kids end up craving them like candy.
To avoid your child accidentally overeating them and getting sick, be sure to store vitamins in a cupboard that’s out of their reach.
Offer Them After a Meal
Make sure your child takes their vitamins after eating. This helps you establish a routine, but it also ensures that they’re absorbing all the nutrients.
Many vitamins, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D, are fat-soluble and can only be absorbed with food.
Use Chewable or Gummy Vitamins
Some children are completely resistant to pills or liquid medicines.
To make sure they get their vitamins, look for a chewable or gummy option.
Wait until They’re Older
If you’ve tried everything and your child absolutely refuses to take vitamins, don’t panic.
Many doctors believe that it’s fine to wait until they’re around age three or four before you need to worry about supplementation.
Once they’re out of the terrible twos, you also may find that they’re less picky than they were before, so multivitamins might not even be necessary!
Children’s multivitamins are good for kids who don’t eat a traditional diet or have medical conditions that make nutrient absorption difficult. However, not every child needs to take a multivitamin, especially if they’re eating a varied, healthy diet.
Do you want your child to eat a more balanced diet? Are you lost on what to feed them? Check out this post for healthy, toddler-approved snacks to make things easier!