As children grow, it’s important for them to get enough vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal health.
Most kids get adequate amounts of nutrients from a balanced diet, but under certain circumstances, children may need to supplement with vitamins or minerals.
This article tells you everything you need to know about vitamins for kids and whether your child may need them.
Nutrient needs for kids
Nutrient needs for kids are dependent on age, sex, size, growth, and activity level.
According to health experts, young children between the ages of 2 and 8 require 1,000–1,400 calories each day. Those ages 9–13 need 1,400–2,600 calories daily — depending on certain factors, such as activity level.
While the above nutrients are some of the most commonly discussed, they aren’t the only ones kids need.
Children require some amount of every vitamin and mineral for proper growth and health, but exact amounts vary by age. Older children and teens need different amounts of nutrients than younger kids to support optimal health.
Do kids have different nutrient needs than adults?
Kids need the same nutrients as adults — but usually require smaller amounts.
As children grow, it’s vital for them to get adequate amounts of nutrients that help build strong bones, such as calcium and vitamin D.
Moreover, iron, zinc, iodine, choline, and vitamins A, B6 (folate), B12, and D are crucial for brain development in early life.
Thus, although kids may need smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals compared to adults, they still need to get enough of these nutrients for proper growth and development.
Do kids need vitamin supplements?
In general, kids that eat a healthy, balanced diet don’t need vitamin supplements.
However, infants have different nutrient needs than children and may require certain supplements, such as vitamin D for breastfed babies.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t recommend supplements over and above the recommended dietary allowances for healthy children older than 1 who eat a balanced diet.
These organizations suggest that kids eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein to obtain adequate nutrition.
These foods contain all of the necessary nutrients for proper growth and development in children.
Overall, kids who eat a balanced diet that includes all food groups don’t usually need vitamin or mineral supplements. Still, the next section covers some exceptions.
Still, vitamin supplements may be necessary for picky eaters, children who have a health condition that affects nutrient absorption or increases nutrient needs, or those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
When providing vitamins to children, be sure to choose high-quality brands that contain appropriate doses for kids.
To ensure your child is getting enough nutrients, offer a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods and limits sweets and refined foods.