Essential vitamins for children and teens

It is important to teach your child healthy habits from the time he is young so he will be able to better care of himself when he is older. Training a child to eat smart, exercise daily, and get proper sleep is like handing him a treasure that will keep him healthy throughout his life!

Eating a diet of unhealthy, processed foods will leave large gaps in the spectrum of nutrients that are needed for the growth and development of a strong and agile body. Ideally, children and teens should be able to get their vitamins from a balanced, healthy diet that consists of foods like:

  • Milk and dairy products (low fat dairy should only come after 3 years of age)
  • Fresh fruits, leafy greens, and vegetables
  • Protein: chicken, fish, meat, eggs
  • Whole grains: oats and brown rice

There are times, however, when as a parent your time is stretched thin with the load of things that demand your attention. During these times nutritious, home-cooked meals may not be possible. For this reason, paediatricians generally recommend a daily multivitamin or mineral supplement for children in the following cases:

  • Children who are not able to eat regular, well-balanced meals made of fresh and whole foods
  • Picky eaters who are simply not eating enough
  • Children with chronic medical conditions like asthma or digestive conditions. (If your child is taking medications or other supplements, be sure you talk to your child’s doctor first about medicine interactions or side effects.)
  • Active kids who play physically demanding sports on a regular basis
  • Children who eat a lot of fast foods, convenience foods, and processed foods
  • Kids of vegetarian diets, dairy-free diets, or other restricted diets. Kids on a vegetarian diet may need iron supplements and those on dairy-free diets may need calcium supplements.
  • Children who consume a lot of carbonated drinks and sodas, as these drinks absorb vitamins and minerals from the body.

Government health recommendations for children suggest that multivitamins containing vitamins A, C, and D should be taken as supplements to help form healthy bones, teeth, and to help maintain normal night vision.