Do Kids Need Multivitamins? An Expert's Guide to Healthy Eating

Do kids need multivitamins? Learn what an expert has to say about healthy eating for children under 18 years old. Find out what nutrients they need and how to choose the right multivitamin.

Do Kids Need Multivitamins? An Expert's Guide to Healthy Eating

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that people under 18 years of age should not use body-shaping supplements. However, it is still legal for minors to purchase these products in 49 states, even though the products are labeled for adult use only. Mayo Clinic offers consultations in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System centers. When it comes to children's nutrition, it is important to understand that their needs are different from adults.

Children between 3 and 5 years old may generally be interested in eating one day and not the next. Many young children seem to be picky eaters, but they are likely to continue to get enough nutrients. Caregivers can try to give children a variety of nutritious foods so that every meal has healthy options. Foods and beverages are already fortified in some cases, such as cow's milk. In addition, multivitamins have some risks.

High doses of vitamins and minerals can cause problems such as stomach discomfort or loose stools. If your child eats or drinks foods with added vitamins and minerals, read the labels carefully to make sure that the total amount of these nutrients does not exceed the safe limit for your child's age. Some vitamins and minerals may also interact with medications that your child may be taking. Nutrition specialists, called dieticians, can help if you have questions about your child's diet. According to dietary surveys, there are some nutrients that caregivers might focus on more than others.

For example, vitamin D may not be taken at the suggested levels. For preschoolers, the daily amount is approximately 600 IU. Calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber are other nutrients that people living in the United States generally don't get enough of. If your child's healthcare provider suggests a multivitamin complex, choose one made for your child's age group.

It should not provide more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins and minerals. And keep multivitamins out of your child's reach. If they taste and look like candies, be sure to tell your child that they cannot be eaten like candies. Most multivitamins contain low doses of vitamins A, B vitamins, C, D, E, as well as several minerals. Your doctor may recommend that you take a multivitamin complex with iron, or a separate iron supplement, to ensure that your nutrient needs are met. Fortunately, more and more multivitamins are coming to market that address these concerns.

Many of these products contain no added sugars or colorants and are free from fillers. Most vitamins and minerals are found in fresh, whole foods, as well as fruits and vegetables, so your child could benefit from a multivitamin supplement in this case. Liquid multivitamins are a convenient alternative to gummies and tablets, especially for babies and people who eat picky eaters. Most healthy children don't need multivitamin supplements if they grow at a normal rate and eat a variety of foods. However, if your picky eater has been skipping whole food groups (specifically fruits with 26% vegetables) for an extended period (more than 1 month), you may need to temporarily support them with a multivitamin as they learn to overcome this challenge. Check out my course on feeding young children to help you start slowly introducing more fresh, whole foods to your toddler so that eventually he no longer needs to rely on a multivitamin.

Elise Ledwig
Elise Ledwig

Professional tv expert. Freelance zombie guru. Proud gamer. Proud bacon fanatic. Proud pop culture practitioner.

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