Getting a child to stick to a balanced diet is one of the most difficult challenges of parenthood. Most toddlers have a meltdown even at the thought of taking a single bite of a green vegetable. This is something that alarms many parents as they end up getting confused on whether to feed them supplementary vitamins or not. The age at which to give them these vitamins is also unclear to many parents. Most healthy children do not need additional vitamins along with their regular diets.
As per numerous research studies, children who receive a balanced diet do not need any form of additional vitamin supplements. Yet, it is quite difficult to determine the number of vitamins your child may be getting every week from the food they agree to eat.
The purpose of this article is to provide an answer to the age-old question: should you start giving your child vitamins? Continue reading to know the answer.
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What are the Classifications of Essential Vitamins for Kids?
Vitamins do not supply the human body with calories. However, what they do is keep the existing conditions of the body within healthy limits and help with the numerous metabolic processes within. The overall growth of children is adversely affected if the body lacks vitamins.
In general, there are two basic forms of vitamins: Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. A, D, E, and K are examples of the former, while B-complex and C belong to the latter. The following sections briefly describe the necessity of both types of vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in oils and fats, as their name implies. These are then absorbed into the body’s fatty tissues along with the fats that children consume in their diet. Fat-soluble vitamins are found in many animal and plant foods and synthetic dietary supplements.
Water-soluble vitamins, like fat-soluble vitamins, are transported into the body’s cells. Water-soluble vitamins may be found in animal and plant meals, as well as dietary supplements, exactly as fat-soluble vitamins. This must be taken in daily, which is what makes its consumption crucial.
What are the Necessary Vitamins and Minerals for Kids?
Young children need a lot of essential nutrients to grow and develop. A recurring lack of any single nutrient can cause serious problems down the line when the child grows up or even before that. The following sections explain some of the vital minerals and vitamins for children – things that they are in absolute need of.
Vitamin D is one of the rare ones among them. It promotes the formation of bone and teeth and aids the body in absorbing calcium. It is only found in some everyday foods like eggs and oily fish. Certain food products such as breakfast cereals and nut spreads may also be infused with vitamin D. However, due to this apparent rarity of vitamin D in most food items, young children may need additional intake to fulfill the growing body’s needs.
However, the most significant external source of vitamin D is the glorious sun itself. Sunlight transfers a lot of vitamin D, although it is important to keep an eye on exposure limits. Spending too much time under direct sunlight is unhealthy and risky – especially for kids. You need to ensure your child is protected; otherwise, they might develop unwanted skin rashes and burns. The ideal practice is to provide young children with vitamin drops even if they regularly visit outdoors under the sun.
Breastfed babies under the age of 1 need a regular supplement of around 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to avoid deficiencies. If the mom is already taking vitamin D supplements yourself, you can skip this altogether, as the baby would be receiving the nutrition directly from you anyways.
Babies on infant formulae do not need additional supplements if they drink equal to or more than 500mL per day. That is because infant formula consists of an abundance of vitamins and essential nutrients on its own.
Relatively older children, within the age range of 1 to 4 years, should be fed daily supplements consisting of vitamin D of at least ten micrograms.
Vitamin C is crucial for young children as it impacts and improves the body’s overall health and immune system. It also enables the body’s tissues to absorb iron from the bloodstream. In simple terms, vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
Vitamin C enhances the formation of connective neurons, healthy muscle, and skin cells. Some of the best sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, and pepper.
Vitamin A deficiency is very common among babies and young children. It is one of the key contributors to a healthy immune system. It is the most important element that your eyes need to be able to see well in dimly-lit conditions. Vitamin A is also essential for skin health General tissue and bone repair are also helped by vitamin A.
Ideal sources of vitamin A include eggs, milk, cheese, squash, hams, and carrots. Fat spreads, sweet potatoes, cabbage, spinach, and broccoli are also brilliant sources of vitamin A.
Which Kids Need Supplements of Vitamins?
Given the constraints of time-pressed parents, well-rounded, home-cooked meals are often not feasible. As a result, physicians may advise taking a multivitamin or mineral supplement regularly. Below is a list of children in situations where they simply need additional vitamins on top of their usual diets.
- Children who do not consume nutritious, well-balanced meals produced from fresh, whole foods daily
- Picky eaters who just do not consume enough food
- Children with chronic medical illnesses, such as digestive or asthmatic issues, are more vulnerable, especially if they are on prescriptions. (NOTE: If your kid is on medication, consult with his or her doctor before introducing a supplement.)
- Children who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet (they may require a supplement of iron), a dairy-free diet (they may require a supplement of calcium), or any other restrictive diet
- Children who consume an abundance of fast food, ready meals, and processed foods
- Children who consume large amounts of carbonated beverages, which can drain minerals and vitamins from their bodies
When and Why NOT to Give Vitamin Supplements to Your Child?
One of the striking features of vitamins, in general, is that the human body does not need them in large quantities, and some vitamins can be stored within. The actual daily dosage required is quite a small amount.
When it comes to children, the fact that they have a relatively small body mass means that only a few nibbles from all the basic food groups per day are sufficient for them to obtain the daily dosage of vitamins. Even if they end up having jelly sandwiches and peanut butter for the rest of the day, the vitamin requirements would at least be fulfilled.
As particular vitamins are stored in the body, you can take time to give the right amount through a week or a few days. There can be days when the diet might go awry. However, that certainly does not mean all hope is gone. You can simply put in a little extra effort the next day so that your child eats healthy vegetables a little bit more than the daily requirement.
Furthermore, modern food products tend to be fully braced with vitamins and minerals. Yes, it is important to consume healthy food like fish, eggs, beans, fruits, and more, but whenever you purchase them in prepared form from a store, chances are, they would be filled with vitamin and mineral additives. Make it a habit of checking the labels of any food item you purchase. This will help you buy products depending on their constituents and enable you to keep an eye on the number of vitamins and minerals being consumed by your child.
In simple terms, obtaining vitamins from natural sources, like fruits and vegetables, is significantly healthier than acquiring them via supplements. The human body is more adept at absorbing vitamins from beans and eggs than a multivitamin capsule.
Therefore, you must think twice before going ahead and giving your child supplementary vitamins just in case. Excessive consumption can lead to nausea, headaches, rashes, and a host of other issues. You must always be aware of these problems.
Choosing the best organic baby formula is key, but only when you know the contents of it. Make sure you keep an eye on anything and everything your baby is being fed. Keeping track of vitamin and mineral intake is key, as it allows you to decide if your baby needs a supplement or not.