Do you want your children to grow up strong and healthy? In that case, you should try to provide them with a balanced, healthy diet. However, many parents wonder whether they should also supplement their kid’s diets with vitamins. So, is it really a good idea to give children supplements?
In our latest article, we will answer the essential questions that parents who are concerned about their children’s vitamin levels often ask themselves. Are vitamins for kids safe? When should you use them? Stay with us to have all the information you need!
- Vitamins are essential molecules for the development of children’s bodies and minds.
- Breastfeeding and a healthy diet are generally enough to prevent most vitamin deficiencies in children.
- Vegan children and those with certain diseases may require vitamin supplements. In addition, many paediatricians give vitamin D and K to young kids at specific times in their lives.
Vitamins for Kids: 5 Essential Questions
Vitamins are essential nutrients for our well-being. These molecules also regulate growth and development in children. If your kids eat a balanced diet, they usually do not need to be supplemented with additional vitamins.
Why do kids need vitamins?
Protein allows our children’s bodies to build strong muscles and bones. Carbohydrates will give them the energy to play for hours. And fats are the nutrient reserves they need to protect them from the cold. But what about vitamins?
Vitamins are actually small molecules (micronutrients) that regulate hundreds of chemical reactions in young children’s bodies. These nutrients will be essential for them to reach adulthood with a strong immune system, a healthy body, and a sharp mind.
If you want to learn more about this, we recommend that you check out the following table. We have summed up the main functions of vitamins in the bodies of both babies and children (1, 2):
|Vitamin||Function||The consequences of a deficiency|
|A||Necessary for bone and tissue growth. It strengthens the immune system (defences). Essential for the development of normal vision.||Growth retardation. Low defences. Vision impairment, including blindness.|
|B group||It enables normal brain function. Vital for the production of energy.||Difficulty in concentrating and learning. Lack of energy. Bad temper, irritability, anaemia.|
|C||It contributes to proper tissue development. It strengthens the immune system.||Growth disorders. Frequent illnesses. Low energy levels.|
|D||It is involved in the creation of strong, healthy bones. It regulates metabolism and immunity. Vitamin C may be involved in brain development.||Growth defects. Brittle bones with a tendency to break. Severe malformations. Allergies, asthma, and other immune conditions.|
|E||Essential for the creation of new neurons. It maintains healthy nerves and muscles.||Coordination and balance problems. Muscle weakness. Fatigue. Anaemia.|
|K||It regulates blood coagulation (to prevent bleeding).||Bleeding is difficult to stop.|
How can I make sure my kid doesn’t lack vitamins?
Experts recommend that our children get all the vitamins they need from a healthy diet (3, 4):
- Vitamin A is found in dairy products, eggs, meat, and red and orange-coloured vegetables (such as carrots and sweet potatoes, for instance).
- B vitamins are found in fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. Beware of vitamin B12; this molecule is found exclusively in foods of animal origin.
- Vitamin C is present in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- You can prevent vitamin D deficiency by including fish and dairy products in your child’s diet.
- Is your child old enough to eat nuts? These foods are a good source of vitamin E. Otherwise, you can prevent deficiency by including broccoli, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes in their meals.
- Finally, you can increase your child’s vitamin K reserves by giving them green leafy vegetables, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.
If your child is still very young, remember that breastfeeding is one of the best ways to give your baby all the nutrition they need. However, don’t panic if you can’t breastfeed naturally! Your paediatrician can help you choose a formula that will provide your baby with all the vitamins necessary for their well-being.
Can I give vitamin supplements to my child?
In theory, supplementing children isn’t recommended, as their nutritional needs should be met through their diet. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. We have listed them below:
Children with eating problems
Children with certain diseases, such as coeliac disease or cystic fibrosis (5), may need supplements if they have problems absorbing nutrients from the diet.
In these cases, your child’s paediatrician must personally prescribe and supervise the use of vitamin supplements.
In the first few hours of life
Newborns are supplemented with vitamin K in the first hours of life to prevent them from suffering dangerous haemorrhages.
Generally, a single dose of vitamin K is administered by injection in the same hospital where the baby was born. Experienced health professionals should carry out this procedure.
Vitamin D in young children (7)
Vitamin D is a very special micronutrient! This essential molecule can be obtained from food, like all other vitamins, or through sunlight exposure. That’s right! Our body (and your child’s) can use the sun’s radiation to produce vitamin D.
However, young children have very delicate skin, which is why excessive sun exposure during the first year of life isn’t safe. In addition, their diet isn’t particularly rich in foods containing vitamin D (fish and dairy products). This predisposes our kids to suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
Fortunately, paediatricians are aware of this complicated situation. For this reason, many offer the possibility of supplementation (under their direct supervision) to young children until they can get all the vitamin D they need to grow strong and healthy on their own.
If your child doesn’t eat animal products, they are at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency (8). This molecule is essential for your kid’s development; if you have vegan children, you should talk to your paediatrician and assess the need to include a supplement in their diet.
Are vitamins safe for kids?
If you use vitamins prescribed by a paediatrician and follow their instructions, you can rest easy! However, we do not recommend that you buy any random vitamin product for children available on the market. If you do, your kid could suffer from very dangerous poisoning and overdoses, which could lead to:
- Nausea and vomiting
- General discomfort
- Difficulty to concentrate
- In the worst case, it may lead to serious illnesses requiring urgent medical assistance.
Vitamin D, for example, is a product that can cause very dangerous poisoning in children if it is taken irresponsibly (9).
Our advice: Only supplement your child if a paediatrician instructs you to do so. Use vitamins prescribed by a doctor and never (ever) give your kid your own supplements.
Finally, we would like to remind you that, while Sundt supplements are excellent quality products, their dosage is designed to meet the needs of healthy adults only. Please do not give them to your children!
I think my child is lacking vitamins, what should I do?
If your kid seems sadder, duller or more tired than usual, we recommend that you consult your paediatrician. A simple blood test will allow you to find out if they lack any essential nutrients. With this information, your physician will be able to help you improve or supplement your child’s diet, leaving deficiency in the past!
Many parents dread the infamous vitamin deficiency in children. However, if your kid eats a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, and fresh meat, you have nothing to worry about. Vitamins D and K can be supplemented, but only under professional supervision.
Avoid giving your child nutritional supplements yourself. If your little one seems more tired than usual, contact your paediatrician to assess the need to take vitamins. Follow our tips, and we are confident that your child will grow into a healthy, strong, and happy adult!
Did we answer all your questions regarding vitamins for children? Please tell us about your experience in the comment section below. You can also share this article on your social media for other parents to learn more about this topic.
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