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What Every Parent Needs to Know About Kids & Vitamins

Does your child need a vitamin supplement? If your child eats regular, healthy meals and snacks, probably not.

Parent placing a vitamin in a child's mouth"In most cases, children get the vitamins and minerals they need from the food they eat, especially because many common products — such as cereals and milk — are fortified with important nutrients," says Dr. Daniel Pelzer, a pediatrician with The Iowa Clinic. "However, there are a few special cases in which nutritional supplements are advisable."

When Doctors Recommend Nutritional Supplements

There are situations in which pediatricians will recommend supplements for children. Some of these reasons may include kids who:

  • live in time-crunched households in which consistently providing healthy meals is difficult
  • frequently eat nutrient-poor fast food
  • eat a vegetarian, vegan or another restricted diet
  • have a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or digestive problems
  • take medication (caution: some vitamins can interact with medications)

If you think your child isn’t getting the nutrients he or she needs, it’s important to talk with your pediatrician before you ever hand your child a cute-looking multivitamin — or for that matter, any type of nutritional supplement.

Excessive Amounts Can Be Dangerous

If after consulting your pediatrician a vitamin supplement is recommended, be cautious to not exceed the recommended dosages, which are based not only based on your child’s age but also on gender, health status and habits.

"Parents are often concerned that their child is missing out on some key dietary components. This is especially true for children between 18 months and 3 years, when many kids become more vocal about their mealtime preferences," says Dr. Pelzer. "This is a normal phase of development and the key to overcoming it is parental persistence and modeling healthy eating habits."

"The best thing parents can do for their child’s nutritional wellbeing is to prepare meals at home using fresh, whole foods as often as possible," says Dr. Pelzer.


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