Vitamin supplements for children

Many people take vitamin and mineral supplements. When it comes to children, are they really necessary… or beneficial?

Some basics about vitamins

“Eat your vegetables, they’re full of vitamins!” How many times have you heard that famous expression from your parents’ lips? Without necessarily getting into the processes in which these substances come into play, they just wanted you to know how important it is to take in daily vitamins. With good reason!

In small quantities, vitamins are vital to growth and to the body’s proper functioning. They are divided into two groups—water soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins.

Water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, dissolve in water. Any surplus taken in is eliminated in the urine. Therefore, it is important to include it in your daily diet because it is impossible for your body to store it. As for fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, they are absorbed and stored in fat.

Daily vitamin needs are referred to by the term "recommended dietary allowance" (RDA). RDA can be defined as the vitamin intake objective required to meet nutritional needs for 97 to 98% of individuals in good health, according to their sex and age.

Vitamin supplements

Generally, a balanced diet including the four food groups (fruit and vegetables, milk products, meat and meat substitutes, and grain products) should meet all vitamin needs for most children. The Canada Food Guide, available online, is a thorough reference tool that will help you choose foods for your family.

Therefore, most children don’t need to take a vitamin and mineral supplement. However, it may be necessary for some children, who, for example, present certain particularities, growth-related or specific health problems, to take one. This list includes children who:

  • have significant food allergies or intolerances
  • have food restrictions
  • eat very little or have a very unbalanced diet
  • follow a vegan diet

Remember that food contains other important nutrients that vitamin supplements don’t offer, such as fibre, carbohydrates, protein and essential fatty acids. Cultivate the joys of eating well because a healthy and varied diet cannot be replaced by supplements!

Avoid giving your child vitamin supplements without first talking to a health professional, such as a doctor. Intoxication risks exist and cases of overdose toxicity (hypervitaminosis) are possible.

Your pharmacist can provide information regarding the choice of a vitamin and mineral supplement and the appropriate dosage for your child. Several commercial formulations exist: chewable tablets, gummies, liquid form, etc.

Parental tips

The following tips will help parents maximize their child’s vitamin intake and reduce the risks of overdose:

  • To establish your child’s dietary basics, follow the Canada Food Guide’s recommendations.
  • Encourage your child to eat fruits, vegetables and milk products.
  • Eliminate foods that are poor in nutrients from your cupboards (chocolate, chips, pastries, etc.).
  • Remember that children learn through modelling. In terms of eating habits, you are their role model. If you eat well, your child will most likely follow suit!
  • Do not give your child a vitamin and mineral supplement unless it has been recommended by a healthcare professional.
  • Ensure that your child never exceeds the recommended daily dose.
  • If your child must take a supplement, be sure to keep it out of reach, as some formulations are very appealing and could be over consumed by children, increasing the risk of intoxication.

Eating is one of life's great pleasures. At snack-time, have fun creating culinary masterpieces where variety is at the top of the list. Have your child discover delicious and nutritious new foods. There’s nothing better than bringing together fun and discovery!

Don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist for additional information about children’s health.

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Vitamin supplements for children

Many people take vitamin and mineral supplements. When it comes to children, are they really necessary… or beneficial?
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