Nutrition Q&A: Vitamins For Kids

Q:  I give my kids (2 under 6) a multi-vitamin every day but always wonder if they need it. They eat pretty well. What are your thoughts on that and if you're pro vitamin what brands do you like? I try to avoid the gummies but my kids seem to like those the best. Big surprise, right??

A: Nutritious food (and not supplementation) always comes first when it comes to getting all of your nutrients, but it doesn't hurt for both kids and adults to take a standard multivitamin. Think of it like your insurance. It covers all your bases and makes sure you get 100% of your daily recommended values. My kids take a standard multivitamin (with fluoride) that the doctor actually prescribes so that you know exactly what is in the formulation. Over-the-counter vitamins are unregulated and none are FDA (Food and Drug Admin) approved, so we are not sure that the information on the label matches what is in the product. Therefore, I would get an Rx from your doc and if your water supply does not have fluoride, get the multivitamin with the fluoride in it for kids because it can help prevent dental cavities. Just remember though, a balanced diet is the most important thing but unfortunately, many kids stick to the same foods and tend to be pickier than adults, so a vitamin is probably a good idea.

 Laura Burak completed her dietetic internship and nutrition master's degree program at New York University and currently runs her own practice, Laura Burak Nutrition.

                           

If you do give vitamins to your kids, follow these tips from Web MD:

  • Put vitamins away, well out of reach of children, so your child doesn't treat them like candy.
  • Try not to battle over foods with your kids or use desserts as a bribe to "clean your plate." Instead, try giving a chewable vitamin as a "treat" at the end of a meal.  Fat-soluble vitamins can only be absorbed with food.
  • If your child is taking any medication, be sure to ask your child's doctor about any drug interactions with certain vitamins or minerals. Then the supplement won't boost or lower the medication dose.
  • Try a chewable vitamin if your child won't take a pill or liquid supplement.
  • Consider waiting until a child is 4 years old to start giving a multivitamin supplement unless your child's doctor suggests otherwise.
  • Sound nutrition plays a role in your child's learning and development. So rather than relying on cartoon characters selling supplements, commit to feeding a range of healthy foods to your kids if at all possible.

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