Multivitamins for children have come under fire recently, and it is true that not every product marketed for your child is as healthy as the manufacturer makes it seem.
But many kids’ multivitamins are not only very good for your child, but certain children will get great benefits from taking them. You just need to make the right choice.
It can be very difficult to get your child to eat everything they need nutritionally across the day. Even if you are blessed with a no-fuss eater who will happily devour everything you offer, with busy modern lives, it can be hard to offer the full range of needs each day.
What nutritional needs do children have?
Children of different ages have different nutritional requirements. For example, children under 2 have different needs to school-aged children, who again have different needs to those entering puberty.
In general terms, your child needs the following nutritionally to be healthy:
Macronutrients from carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, fiber and water.
Micronutrients such as vitamins which the body can’t create on its own, including A, D, E, E, K, eight different B vitamins and C.
Minerals including magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, choline, potassium, calcium, chloride, sodium, manganese, copper, and a number of others.
You don’t have to give your child all of these things every day, however. For the best health, and as a good rough guide, you should try to give your child every day:
- Several sources of carbohydrates such as whole grains, cereals, etc.
- Healthy protein such as meat, chicken, fish, tofu, beans, and legumes
- Calcium mostly from dairy or dairy substitutes
- A wide range of fruit and vegetables; at least four serves a day, which should give your child the vitamin range we mentioned above
- Some healthy sources of fat which could include fish, olive oil, nuts, avocados
Because children may reject entire food groups, such as meat, dairy and fruit, and vegetables, they are often lacking in some of the bigger things they need, especially calcium, protein and iron. And if they are particularly fussy about vegetables then they will likely be missing a few key vitamins they need too.
Younger children who are growing rapidly need lots of calcium and vitamin D as these are essential for teeth and bones.
There is a handy table here with more details on exactly what your child needs at each age:
It can sometimes be a challenge to get the whole gorgeous rainbow into your child every day.
Do Kids Need Multivitamins?
Children who are growing and developing well, and who generally get the nutritional intake we described above shouldn’t need multivitamins. Experts recommend that children get their nutrition from food mostly anyway.
If your child isn’t getting the nutritional intake that he needs he may miss developmental milestones or grow and develop slower than other children his age. The nutritional recommendations are based on what your child needs to thrive, grow, do all of their daily physical and mental tasks, and also heal from sickness or injury.
Even if your child is a picky eater (and let’s face it – this is probably most of them!), they can still be getting nutritionally what they need from regular healthy meals and snacks.
Many regular foods that children will readily eat, such as breakfast cereal, milk, and orange juice, are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to help boost their intake. Have a look at the label of any product before you buy it – you might find extra vitamin B and D and even calcium and iron hiding in their food!
If you are concerned about how your child is eating, it can be a very good idea to chat with your family doctor before starting your child on a multivitamin regime. It may help to keep a food diary for a week before going, so you and the doctor can figure out if there are gaps in your child’s diet.
Signs your child may be lacking in nutrition
Here are some signs that your child may not be getting all of the nutrients he needs:
- He has a delay in growing or developing
- He has a dietary restriction or intolerance
- He has a chronic illness or has to take regular medication
- He is lacking in energy or has digestive troubles.
Your child may be lacking in certain nutritional needs through diet, but this can also happen because of illness or through his own body’s natural makeup. Some people don’t produce or digest certain vitamins very well, and even with the very best diet, your child still may need some extra help.
If your child takes regular medication, this can also stop his body from absorbing the nutrients he needs. If he is on a restricted diet, such as vegetarian or vegan, or has an allergy or sensitivity to certain food groups such as dairy, then he might also be nutritionally lacking.
What kids multivitamins should I give my child?
Look for products that have been appropriately tested and approved by groups such as NSF International, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab.com, Informed-Choice, or the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG).
Some multivitamins, especially the ones marketed for children, can be very high in sugar. It is important to check that the supplement you are giving your child has the right balance for their age and their development, and is also not high in anything they really don’t need.
Some vitamins can counteract regular necessary medications, which is another good reason to check with your doctor before putting your child on a supplementary regime.
Look for multivitamins that are high in the vitamins and minerals we mentioned above. Choose one that is right for your child’s age and gender (if they are teenagers or older) – make sure that they aren’t getting more than 100% of their nutritional requirements.
There are also some fantastic supplements in powdered drink form, which make pleasant-tasting milkshakes for your child, and can help to give you peace of mind that they are getting everything they need each day.
The staff at Eric’s are the best people to talk to if you aren’t sure about which children’s multivitamins are recommended – pop in and have a chat about our range today.