Ideally, children would get the vitamins and minerals that they need to grow up strong and healthy by eating a balanced, nutritious diet. But that doesn’t happen too often today. Too often parents are rushed and don’t have time to make the most nutritious meals and just pick up a pizza on the way from the office at night.
Kids that are picky might refuse to eat healthy meals and prefer junk food or fast food instead of healthy meals. So parents need to give children vitamins.
While children are growing they need to get a certain amount of particular vitamins and minerals or else their bodies and minds won’t develop the way that they should. Malnutrition or even just poor nutrition can cause developmental disabilities and other problems that can last throughout a child’s life.
Child health experts don’t always agree on whether or not all children should take a daily multivitamin. Some parents prefer to give kids only the particular vitamins that they might be lacking based on the types of foods that they will or won’t eat.
Still, in order to make sure that their kids get what they need many parents do give their kids a multivitamin every day just to make sure that the child is getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals.
WHAT TYPES OF KIDS NEED TO TAKE VITAMINS?
Almost all kids but especially these kids:
- Kids who don’t get healthy, nutritious meals on a regular basis
- Kids who eat a lot of processed foods like macaroni and cheese
- Kids who are very picky about what they will and won’t eat
- Kids who have medical conditions that restrict the foods they can eat, like digestive problems
- Kids who are on medications
- Very active kids
- Kids who play competitive sports.
- Vegetarian kids – Kids do not get enough vitamins and nutrients from a vegetarian diet. It’s very important to supplement your child’s diet if you feed your child as a vegetarian
- Kids who drink sodas regularly – carbonated sodas and beverages will leech the vitamins and minerals right out of children’s bodies, which is one more reason you shouldn’t give kids soda.
THE VITAMINS THAT KIDS NEED TO HAVE
So what vitamins and minerals do children need? Not as many as you might think. Adults need more vitamins and minerals than children do because as you get older your body stops making certain amino acids, enzymes and other things that your body needs to function well and only vitamins can trigger the body to make those things again.
Getting your child to take a daily multivitamin can be a challenge because most kids don’t like to take vitamins unless you get the ones that are specifically made for kids and are shaped like bears or cartoon figures and come in a jelly, liquid, or lollipop form. But are those multi-vitamins any good or are they just masquerading as something that is healthy for your kids?
Here are the vitamins that kids need to have and some tips on the best way to give them the vitamins that they need:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Omega 3 fatty acids are important for kids because these fatty acids help develop brain function. In order for a child’s brain to develop normally, their bodies need to have Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s especially important for vegetarian parents to give their kids
Omega 3 fatty acid supplements because usually these fatty acids are found in meat. So kids that aren’t eating any meat at all will absolutely need to have Omega 3 fatty acid supplements.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps keep kids healthy and also is important for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin C also helps the development of connective tissue around joints. Most kids get enough Vitamin C through a daily glass of orange juice but during cold and flu season parents might want to give kids Vitamin C supplements.
B-complex vitamins – B-complex vitamins are important for kids because they help kids bodies break down complex carbohydrates and heavy, starchy foods. Kids that eat a lot of processed foods like macaroni and cheese, white sandwich bread, and fried, heavy foods usually need extra B-complex vitamins to help their bodies break down all those carbs.
Calcium – Kids need calcium daily so that their bones will grow strong and their adult teeth will be strong and healthy. Calcium supplements are a must for kids that have lactose intolerance even those most milk made for lactose-intolerant people is fortified with calcium because usually, the amounts in the lactose-free milk are better for adults than children.
Zinc – Zinc is another mineral that will help build up a child’s immune system. Children are exposed to lots of germs every day and the stronger a child’s immune system is the less likely it is that the child will become seriously ill.
Chromium – Chromium is a mineral that will help kids process and break down carbs.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E keeps kids’ skin, eyes and liver healthy as well as supporting most of the tissues in the body. The body can’t run effectively without enough Vitamin E.
Vitamin K – Vitamin K is important because it makes blot clots. Kids are always falling, scratching themselves, getting cut, scraping knees or knuckles or injuring themselves in small ways. In order for their small cuts to clot and to heal properly, they need to be getting enough Vitamin K.
Iron – Iron builds muscle. Iron also helps the red blood cells function properly. Kids have a tendency to become iron deficient rather quickly, so it’s important to give kids a regular iron supplement.
Not every kid needs supplements for all of these vitamins, but these are the vitamins that it is most important for kids to have. If your child is eating a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet then your paediatrician might say that you don’t need to give your kids multivitamin or vitamin supplements.
But you should always check with your doctor before you give your child a multivitamin to make sure that your child really needs it. Most doctors will tell parents to give their kids at least a high-quality multivitamin every day but kids that have certain conditions might not need one.
TIPS FOR GIVING KIDS VITAMINS
Once your doctor has told you that you need to give your child a daily multivitamin the next challenge becomes getting your child to actually take the multivitamin every day. Ideally, you want to make it a habit for the child to take a vitamin every day so that he or she will always remember even if you forget.
Also, it’s a good habit to have. So here are some tips that you can use to get your child in the habit of taking a multivitamin every day:
Give the vitamin at the same time every day – It doesn’t matter if it’s first thing in the morning, after dinner, or just before bedtime. Make sure that you consistently give your child a vitamin at the same time every day. Eventually getting that vitamin will be part of the child’s routine, like washing their face or brushing their teeth.
Keep the vitamins in one spot – This can get tricky because you should keep the vitamins in a spot where the child can’t easily get them so that the child doesn’t eat more than one vitamin a day but you also should set up a routine by keeping them in a familiar spot.
As the child gets older the child can start to get his or her own vitamin from that one particular spot every day.
Use a daily medication holder – A fun way to remind kids to take their vitamin every day is to put one vitamin in each slot of a daily medication holder. The child may not be able to read the days of the week on the holder but will know to open the compartment and take one vitamin each day. You can buy these at any drug store.
For small children, crush up a vitamin tablet and put it in some juice or use a liquid vitamin because a pill might be too hard or too scary for them to swallow.
If you are going to use liquid vitamins don’t keep them in the refrigerator for more than a week. Buy a new bottle each week because they don’t keep it very well.
Use chewable vitamins and make them seem like a treat. Buy chewable vitamins in fun shapes and colours, or ones that have great flavours, or ones that are shaped like lollipops. Kids love treats, and they will love taking vitamins if they think the vitamins are treats.
Just a word of caution though – if you use this approach make sure you put the vitamins out of reach after you give them so the kids aren’t tempted to eat more than one.
When giving your child a vitamin tablet that seems very large or if the child doesn’t want to swallow the tablet and you can’t crush it up try giving the tablet in a teaspoon of honey. The sweet taste and gooey texture will make it easier for the child to swallow and less scary.
Giving kids vitamins takes some practice. Every child is different so you might have to experiment to find out which method of giving vitamins works the best in your household.
The most important thing to remember is to start a routine and get the kids in the habit of taking that vitamin every day. That’s a habit that they could take with them through their whole life and it could help them stay healthy and strong throughout their lives.