Should You Be Giving Your Child a Multivitamin?

by: Steven Auger
If you struggle with whether or not to give your children a multivitamin, you're not alone.
Close Up of Multivitamins

Parents want their children to be healthy. That means getting the proper amount of sleep, eating a nutritious diet – including lots of fruits and veggies – and getting plenty of exercise. Toss in yearly physicals and regular dental checkups and it's enough to make your head spin.

One question you might have revolves around vitamins. Should your child taken them, specifically, a multivitamin? Think back to your childhood. Perhaps your parents made you take a vitamin or even vitamin C pills. Lets' face it; kids eat what they want and not necessarily what they should. So if the multivitamin quandary is one you find yourself constantly debating, you're not alone.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN referenced a report that discovered about a third of American children do take supplements. Most of that is in the form of a multivitamin, but some children take individual supplements such as vitamin C. These results probably shouldn't surprise you as the same report says most U.S.adults also take some form of supplement.

Young Child Covered in Ice Cream

If only children enjoyed normal meals as much as ice cream

Photo Source: Flickr/nvainio

Vitamin Types

According to HealthyChildren.org, the official stance of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that a healthy child who consumes a typical, balanced diet doesn't need any type of supplementation from a vitamin. The body is unable to produce certain vitamins so it takes what it needs from food. The AAP lists six of the most important types for children:
  • Vitamin A: Responsible for healthy skin, tissue repair, night and color vision, and overall growth. Typically found in dairy products, yellow veggies, and liver.
  • Vitamin B: Responsible for metabolic activities and red blood cell formation. Typically found in meats, fish, dairy, eggs, and whole grains.
  • Vitamin C: Responsible for healing bones and wounds, strengthening skin, muscle, and connective tissue, and helps build up infection resistance. Typically found in fruits and vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.
  • Vitamin D: Responsible for bone and tooth formation while helping to regulate mineral absorption. Typically found in dairy products, egg yolks, and fish oils.
  • Iron: Responsible for building muscles and blood production Typically found in turkey, beef, and pork.
  • Calcium: Responsible for proper bone development. Typically found in yogurt, cheese, milk, and some veggies, like spinach and broccoli.

 

Vitamin Pros and Cons

For various reasons, getting the correct amount of vitamins through diet alone isn't always that easy. According to The Mayo Clinic, there are some legitimate reasons to give your child a multivitamin. They include food allergies, chronic diseases, delayed developmental and physical growth, and a restrictive diet, such as vegan.

A multivitamin can also have some detrimental side effects such as a negative reaction with certain medicines your child might be taking. The AAP also notes that large multivitamin doses can be toxic resulting in nausea, headaches, and rashes.

Kids Eating Lunch at School

Children eating lunch at school

Photo Source: Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

Still not sure if you should give your child vitamins? Bring it up with your child's pediatrician at her next physical. The pediatrician will help determine if, based on assorted factors such as her age and any potential deficiencies, a multivitamin is the correct course of action.

Is your child a picky eater? Has a concern about whether she's properly nourished from food alone led you to give her a multivitamin? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Feature Photo Source: Flickr/Steven Depolo