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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.
According to health experts, young children between the ages of 2 and 8 require 1,—1, calories each day. Those ages 9—13 need 1,—2, calories daily — depending on certain factors, such as activity level 1 , 2. 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.
Moreover, iron, zinc, iodine, choline , and vitamins A, B6 folate , B12, and D are crucial for brain development in early life 5 , 6. 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. Kids usually need smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals than adults. Nutrients that help build bones and promote brain development are especially significant in childhood.
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However, infants have different nutrient needs than children and may require certain supplements, such as vitamin D for breastfed babies 7. These organizations suggest that kids eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein to obtain adequate nutrition 8 , 9. These foods contain all of the necessary nutrients for proper growth and development in children Still, the next section covers some exceptions. Kids should eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients they need.
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Vitamins are usually unnecessary for healthy children eating balanced diets. Certain vitamin and mineral supplements may be necessary for kids who are at risk of deficiencies, such as those who 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 :. In particular, kids who eat plant-based diets may be at risk of deficiencies in calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D — especially if they eat few or no animal products Vegan diets can be particularly dangerous for children if certain nutrients like vitamin B12 — which is found naturally in animal foods — are not replaced through supplements or fortified foods.
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Children with celiac or inflammatory bowel diseases may have difficulty absorbing several vitamins and minerals, especially iron, zinc, and vitamin D. This is because these diseases cause damage to the areas of the gut that absorb micronutrients 13 , 16 , On the other hand, kids with cystic fibrosis have trouble absorbing fat and, therefore, may not adequately absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K In addition, children with cancer and other diseases that cause increased nutrient needs may require certain supplements to prevent disease-related malnutrition Finally, some studies have linked picky eating in childhood to low intakes of micronutrients 14 , One study in kids ages 3—7 found that picky eating was strongly associated with low intakes of iron and zinc.
Still, the results indicated that blood levels of these minerals were not significantly different in picky compared to non-picky eaters Vitamin and mineral supplements are often necessary for kids who follow vegan or vegetarian diets, have a condition that affects the absorption of nutrients, or are very picky eaters. If your child follows a restrictive diet, cannot adequately absorb nutrients, or is a picky eater, they may benefit from taking vitamins.
Vitamin or mineral supplements can be toxic to children when taken in excess amounts. This is especially true with the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K that are stored in body fat One case study reported vitamin D toxicity in a child who took too much of a supplement Note that gummy vitamins , in particular, can also be easy to overeat.
One study cited three cases of vitamin A toxicity in children due to overeating candy-like vitamins 22 , If you suspect that your child has taken too much of a vitamin or mineral supplement, contact a healthcare provider immediately. When choosing a vitamin, look for high-quality brands and supplements that contain the appropriate dosages of vitamins and minerals for children. It's clearly not a job for the faint hearted. The Iron Lady now has it's own glass floor for those brave enough to try it. Were you one of them? Hitler ordered the German military governor of France to tear it down but he refused.
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