Proper nutrition is the foundation of healthy growth, that’s why parents often suggest buying multivitamins for kids. That seems to be a good idea, but sometimes multivitamins can turn from a quick fix to a potentially harmful food additive. Let’s find out whether we should give multivitamins to children, and which supplements they really need.
Kids’ Nutrient Norms
The amount of nutrients for kids depends on several factors including age, sex, weight, and height, as well as the level of activity and growth. Health specialists say that a kid aged 2-8 needs 1000-1400 calories per day. Kids aged 9-13 need about 1400-2600 calories per day depending on the level of their activity. The full list of nutrients and daily norm can be checked here.
Kids need the same vitamins and minerals as adults – only the amount differs.
Different Age – Different Needs?
As children are growing, they particularly need Calcium and Vitamin D for bone growth, as well as iron, zinc, iodine, choline, and vitamins A, B6 (folate), B12 for normal brain development. But generally, the type of essential vitamins and minerals doesn’t change – the human body needs all of them at any period of development. Make sure you provide a balanced vitamin supply for your children.
Healthy Foods Are Better Than Multivitamins For Kids
So, should parents buy multivitamins for kids who eat healthily and don’t suffer from diseases and health conditions?
American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans DO NOT RECOMMEND giving to children older 1 whose diet is balanced and healthy. They suggest that the essential amount of nutrients can be obtained from eating an optimal amount of:
- Fruit and vegetables;
We, parents, often strive to feed our children with natural products, why then some of us are convinced that multivitamins are always better than simple healthy eating? Multivitamins are only a quick fix of nutrient shortage – buy them only when prescribed by a doctor.
Dangers Of Multivitamins For Children
“Okay, my kid is healthy and grows normally, but why not give the best multivitamin for kids just to prevent problems in the future?” – would parents ask. The principle “It’s never too much” does NOT apply to vitamins and minerals.
How supplements can affect health?
There are two major problems with taking ‘magic pills’: 1) Overdosing; 2) Poor digestibility.
Overdosing And Lack Of Efficiency
A research published on NCBI suggests that taking more than the recommended dose of vitamins A, E, D, C, and folic acid does not always allow preventing diseases, and it can even be harmful to human health. Here’s what I found particularly interesting:
One important point observed in some studies is that vitamin C intake from food does not show the deleterious effects as seen with vitamin C intake from supplements. An explanation to this feature can be that the antioxidants which are naturally present in foods are biochemically balanced, which means that they are part of a combination of redox agents in oxidized and reduced forms, whereas this balance may be lacked in every supplement pill.
As vitamins do not reduce the risk of diseases in aged people, who said they should work for kids?
Besides, overdosing can cause a lot of unpleasant side effects, for example:
- Excess of vitamin A can cause blurred vision, dizziness, and headaches.
- Vitamin D overdose triggers nausea, fatigue, a loss of appetite, in rare cases – kidney stones.
- Too much vitamin E might lead to serious fatigue hypertension, and muscle weakness.
As stated on the website of Smarty Pants kids vitamins, while the iron is essential for the prevention of anemia, serious iron overdose can be lethal, especially in kids younger than 5! That’s why they don’t add the component in their supplement.
Pretty often, children can be tempted to eat many chewable pills, or drink too much multivitamin syrup – it’s too sweet to resist. However, without sticking to a daily dose, your kid can start suffering from above-mentioned side effects.
Must read: Anticold Measures to Keep Diseases at Bay
Vitamins and minerals are all about simple chemistry: not all chemical components are equally ‘compatible’ with each other. It’s not a secret that one vitamin can prevent digestion of others. For example, health specialists do not recommend taking multivitamins with milk/dairy products/calcium supplements because Calcium interferes with other components and doesn’t let the body absorb them.
Take a look at the table of vitamin compatibility. Turns out, our body CANNOT absorb 100% of the multivitamin pill – it kills the whole idea of its efficiency.
Exceptions From The Rule
If a kid eats enough fruit, veggies, and grains, there’s no need to buy supplements. However, sometimes supplements are highly recommended. These cases include:
- following a restrictive diet (for instance, vegetarian);
- a health condition that minimizes nutrient absorption or increases the need for nutrients, such as celiac disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD);
- having gone through a surgery that affects the stomach or the intestine;
- food allergy;
- very picky eating or attempts to avoid certain foods;
- delay in physical or mental development.
Summing it up:
- Between multivitamins and healthy eating, choose a balanced diet.
- A food supplement is not a magic bullet: it does not cure or prevent diseases.
- Give multivitamins to your kids only when prescribed by a doctor.
- Cease giving food supplements to your children if they exhibit side effects: allergic reactions, upset stomach, headache, or start complaining about a strange taste in the mouth.
- Do not exceed the daily dosage!
All in all, the best organic vitamins for toddlers and older kids are healthy foods. No pill can replace a balanced diet with proper nutrition.