Are Vitamin Supplements for Children Necessary?
Parents often ask their pediatrician or pharmacy about vitamin supplements for children. Sometimes, they do so in the winter because their children are more likely to catch a cold. Other times, they want them during spring to help fight off the fatigue that this season brings. When it seems that their defenses are low, we immediately turn to these food supplements in search of a remedy.
But are they really necessary? Are they beneficial for our little ones’ health? Are they always useful? We’ll talk about them in more detail below.
What are vitamin supplements and what are they for?
Vitamin supplements are food supplements that are meant to help you meet the nutritional needs that you can’t meet with diet alone. These days, there are formulas to supplement all kinds of nutrients, not just vitamins.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises meeting your daily energy needs with a macronutrient ratio similar to this one:
- 10-15% protein. On occasion, this percentage may be increased to 35%. That’s because protein needs may increase in certain situations, such as in people with certain diseases or those who do intense physical exercise.
- 30-35% fats. You shouldn’t consume too many saturated fatty acids or cholesterol.
- 50-55% carbohydrates. Most carbohydrates should be complex, not fast-absorbing sugars like glucose.
In addition, it’s essential that your diet includes enough fiber, vitamins and minerals to meet your needs. When it comes to minerals, we want to highlight the importance of calcium and iron, especially in children. It’s also essential to ensure adequate amounts of vitamins to prevent different diseases.
Under normal circumstances, people are able to meet these requirements through a varied and balanced diet. These diets meet the necessary energy and nutritional intake to keep you healthy and to protect you against different disorders.
This goes for people of all ages. However, when it comes to children, it’s important they’re eating enough to maintain their expected growth rate. As a result, there’s an added demand.
Are vitamin supplements for children necessary?
If your child’s diet is adequate, they likely won’t need vitamin supplements. Like we said, it’s essential that your child’s diet is balanced and varied. That’s how you can ensure they’re meeting their nutritional requirements.
Therefore, under normal circumstances, we can say that vitamin supplements for children aren’t necessary. However, there are situations where children show significant nutritional deficits. In those cases, they would need to supplement their diet in order to make up those deficits.
Here are some examples of situations where your child may have a vitamin and mineral deficiency:
- Children following a vegetarian or vegan diet. In these cases, it’s very common to find a vitamin B12 deficiency, among others. This is because this vitamin is commonly found in animal products.
- Athletic children, especially in their teens. When children participate in sports, their nutritional needs increase and, sometimes, they may need supplements.
- Children who don’t eat fruits or vegetables, or who don’t eat enough of them.
Generally, doctors will give all newborns a vitamin D supplement during their first year of life. However, this supplement is specifically taken to prevent rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. Doctors administer it to newborns to ensure they’re getting enough of it. In addition to food, you can get vitamin D through sun exposure.
In addition, populations that are at risk of malnutrition also need to take vitamin A supplements. This basic vitamin fulfills many functions in our body. It’s also essential for the following processes and functions, among others:
- Night vision
- Immune system
- Skin maintenance
They aren’t necessary if there’s no deficit
In conclusion, we want to reiterate how important it is to ensure your child is meeting all of their body’s nutritional requirements. Children should get used to eating everything. And, if they’re meeting these requirements, they won’t need to supplement their diet. It’s important to remember that too much of anything isn’t a good thing, even vitamins.
However, when your child does show a deficiency, your pediatrician will tell you what to do. If you have any concerns, they’ll be the person who can best tell you how to protect your child’s health and ensure they’re growing correctly.