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Should children take nutritional supplements?

Should children take nutritional supplements?

Should children take nutritional supplements?

We explore ways to help keep our families healthy in today’s hectic world. Supplements and vitamins appear to be a practical choice. Brightly coloured products claiming to help keep your child healthy line the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets. There are plenty of gummies, fizzies and chews available to keep up your child’s health and immune system .

India has the highest rate of malnourished children in the world, with one out of every three children suffering from malnutrition. The issue is critical since the effects of malnutrition are permanent if they occur at a young age. It causes lasting disabilities in children, making them sick and weak for the rest of their lives.

According to the University of Washington’s 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, malnutrition was the leading cause of death and disability in India in 2017, followed by dietary diseases and hazards.

For growth, development and good health, your child requires a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Here are a few examples: 

  • minerals such as calcium, iron, iodine, zinc 
  • vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K

Eating a wide variety of meals from the five healthy food groups as mentioned below is the best method for your child to obtain enough vitamins and minerals –

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Reduced-fat dairy products – milk, yoghurt, cheese  
  • Bread, breakfast cereals, corn, rice
  • Chicken & meat, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and legumes like beans, peas, lentils etc.

A child’s diet must meet the following Dietary reference intakes – 


Age 1-3 years

Age 4-8 years


700 mg

1000 mg


7 mg

10 mg

Vitamin A

300 mcg

400 mcg

Vitamin B12

0.9 mcg

1.2 mcg

Vitamin C

15 mg

25 mg

Vitamin D

15 mcg

15 mcg

If your child’s diet is restricted, you’ll have to be extra vigilant to ensure that he or she gets adequate vitamins and minerals. Vegetarian and vegan diets, for example, can make getting adequate iron more challenging. Food intolerances and allergies might make it more difficult for your child to receive enough calcium.

You can get past these concerns with careful planning and some research into alternate ways to incorporate these nutrients into your child’s diet.

The vitamins and minerals in a typical healthy diet may not be enough for children who have a chronic disease that limits their ability to absorb food, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. Your general physician or a dietician can assist you in determining what you need to do in this case.

Children who eat a lot of ‘occasional’ foods, such as sweet drinks, chips, and cakes, may become too full to eat the foods that provide them with necessary vitamins and minerals. Therefore, you must try reserving these foods for special occasions only.

There is no denying the fact that vitamins and minerals are essential for children’s healthy growth and development. Nutritional supplements are rarely needed by children who eat a well-balanced diet. Some youngsters, however, are at risk of deficiency and may require a supplement.

Consult your doctor or a nutritionist if you believe your kid is deficient in certain vitamins or minerals and is unable to eat additional foods that contain these essential nutrients. They may recommend that your child take a specific supplement.

To supplement or not to supplement, that is the question. While vitamins are generally safe for children, you should ensure that your child is getting enough nourishment from the foods he or she consumes. Even the kids who are picky eaters acquire all of the nutrients they need from food. 

So, while most children do not require vitamins, each child is unique and has unique needs, so visit your paediatrician if you are concerned.

There are exceptions to this rule. Vitamin D supplementation is important for infants, especially breastfed infants, and premature infants may be administered a multivitamin with iron before being discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 

Of course, you may decide to give your children vitamins as a precaution. That’s fine, especially if your paediatrician has approved it. Simply choose a vitamin that is appropriate for your child’s age group. Vitamins, when taken correctly, will not hurt them at all. Just don’t let them take the place of a balanced diet, which is essential for children’s development. 

To ensure the nutrients intake your kids need, make sure they eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Children should eat one to two cups of fruit and one to three cups of veggies each day. Then, if you think it’s necessary, give them a multivitamin as a bonus. Gummy candies aren’t recommended because they’re hard on the teeth.

Some vitamins might be dangerous if used in excess. Stick to the stated dose on the package, and avoid giving your child two supplements at the same time.


Important factors to consider when choosing supplements for your child

When selecting a supplement for your child, there are numerous key variables to consider. 

  • Quality & safety are paramount – the supplements should be made with safe, high quality ingredients.
  • Nutritional supplements should be free of preservatives, food dyes and artificial flavors.
  • Must be specially formulated for infants or kids.
  • Must have been formulated under strict manufacturing guidelines.
  • Supplements must not contain megadoses that exceed the daily nutrient requirements for children.


Are children’s nutritional needs different from adults?

Children require the same nutrients as adults, but in smaller amounts. 

As children develop, it is critical that they consume sufficient amounts of minerals that aid in the formation of healthy bones, such as calcium and vitamin D. 

Iron, zinc, iodine, choline, and vitamins A, B6 (folate), B12, and D are also vital nutrients for early brain development in children.

Thus, while children require fewer vitamins and minerals than adults, they still require adequate amounts for proper growth and development.


Nutritional supplement precautions for children

When vitamin or mineral supplements are taken in excess, they can be toxic to children. This holds true especially for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which get stored in the body fat. 

In particular, it is easy to consume too much of gummy vitamins as they are candy-like. To avoid inadvertent supplement overeating, keep vitamins out of reach of small children and address proper vitamin intake with older children. Furthermore, some supplements may interact with any medications that your child is taking so do not forget to inform the doctor about any such medications.

Contact a healthcare practitioner right away if you fear your child has taken too much vitamin or mineral supplement.


Important Considerations

To ensure that their child receives the daily necessary vitamin and mineral intakes, parents should strive for a well-rounded diet. Dairy or dairy alternatives, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources like milk, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and legumes like beans and lentils are all part of a well-balanced diet. Before offering supplements to your child, consult with his or her health care practitioner. Excessive vitamin intake, such as more than the recommended daily allowance, can be hazardous and cause symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and diarrhoea. Always keep supplements out of children’s reach. 

While supplements may be necessary in some cases, acquiring vitamins and minerals through food and drink should be the goal for growing children. If you think your child would benefit from a supplement, talk to their doctor first.

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