To Supplement or Not to Supplement?


supplementsMany parents are concerned if their children are getting enough nutrition through the foods that they eat. Many parents feel better about their child’s overall wellness when taking a vitamin and mineral supplement.

Vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy growth and development. Children who eat a well-balanced diet usually do not need a vitamin or mineral supplement. However, some children are at risk for deficiencies and may require a supplement. Parents should strive for a well-rounded diet to ensure their child meets the daily recommended vitamin and mineral intake.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children are not getting enough:

  • IRON: Iron is found in beef, pork, turkey, beans, and spinach. Iron helps build muscle and is needed to produce red blood cells. Signs of low iron levels include a lack of energy, nervousness, and increased infections.
  • CALCIUM: Calcium is needed to grow healthy bones. It is found in milk, sardines, and fortified plant-based beverages and juices, with smaller amounts in broccoli and spinach. A lack of calcium can lead to poor growth and osteoporosis later in life.
  • VITAMIN D: Vitamin D controls calcium absorption and aids in the development of bones and teeth. Vitamin D is produced in the body after sunlight exposure and is found in some foods, including fortified dairy and dairy alternatives, egg yolks, and fish oils. Children who consume less than 32 ounces of vitamin D-fortified milk or dairy alternatives daily may need a supplement to meet recommended amounts. Excessive intake is not beneficial, and drinking more than 32 ounces of milk can cause low iron in the body.
  • B VITAMINS: B Vitamins help with metabolism and energy and are found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy, as well as nuts, beans, and soybeans.
  • VITAMIN A: Vitamin A is important for normal growth and promotes healthy skin and eyes, immunity, and tissue and bone repair. Good sources include yellow and orange vegetables, milk, cheese, and eggs.

For most children, getting vitamins and minerals through food and drink is the goal. Taking a supplement is a good insurance plan. If you feel your child may need a supplement or you have dietary concerns, consult a health care provider or Registered Dietitian.


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