Vitamins are an essential part of your child’s nutrition. Ensuring your child consumes enough vitamins and minerals is important for proper growth and development. There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble (Vitamins A, D, E, K) and water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins need to be consumed with a fat source (e.g., foods such as oils, fish, and nuts) to be absorbed and stored in the body’s fat tissue for use when needed. Water-soluble vitamins travel through the blood, and the body eliminates what isn’t needed. These need to be consumed daily!
Important minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and calcium are also needed in adequate amounts. This isn’t a conclusive list of nutrients children can get from food, which is why food first is ideal! However, it is not uncommon for kids to struggle to eat enough fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts, fatty fish, grain products, and meat, which are the foundations of a balanced diet.
Do all kids need vitamins?
When kids have a wide palate and eat from all the different food groups, they are much more likely to meet their needs and track appropriately with their growth chart. But we know not all kids eat as colorful of a palate or big enough portions of certain foods as we may need them too regularly. In these cases, providing them with some extra support can be essential.
Kids may also benefit from supplementing some vitamins if they are not growing well, eat a vegetarian/vegan diet, or have dietary restrictions or food allergies that impact the foods they can safely consume.
What about Multi-vitamins?
A multi-vitamin can help fill in the gaps for any child. They often contain the nutrients at the end of this article, although the amount can vary drastically depending on the brand. Many brands also have two options for iron, one with and one without. If your child does not consume foods including the nutrients below, consider supplementing individually.
What should not be in a Multi-vitamin?
Multi-vitamins for children often have unnecessary and undesirable ingredients in them. As much as possible, avoid artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. Natural colors and flavors are a better option and can provide additional health benefits. Limiting or avoiding added sugars is also helpful for avoiding dental decay.
What are natural sources of key vitamins?
The following is a list of key vitamins and nutrients for your child and natural sources from them:
- D: dairy products, egg yolks, mushrooms
- B12*: meat, fish, eggs and dairy products
- B1, B2, B3, B6*: meat, dairy products, breads, nuts
- Folate: green leafy vegetables, liver, legumes
- A: liver, meat, eggs, dairy products
- E: nuts and seeds
- K: leafy green vegetables, eggs, beans, eggs
- C: citrus fruits
- Calcium: dairy products, tofu, and fortified drinks like juice or alternative milks
- Iron*: meat, liver, seafood, egg yolks
- Zinc*: meat, seafood, tofu, beans
- Iodine: iodized salt, seafood, and sea vegetables
- Magnesium: nuts, dark chocolate
*Important to consider supplementing for those consuming a vegetarian/vegan diet
Feeding your child a variety of foods that contain a variety of vitamins and minerals is important for proper growth and development. Children with food restrictions often do not consume of the vitamins listed above. In those cases, you should find a health supplement as a good alternative for your child.