Specialists don’t seem to have the same opinions when it comes to toddlers and vitamin supplements. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has made it clear that you shouldn’t give your child a supplement unless the doctor recommends it. However, the only exception to this rule is represented by vitamin D, which is not ingested in enough quantities by children. This is why AAP advises parents to give their children a supplement containing 400 IU of this vitamin.
Vitamin D supplements are the only ones that children need. According to AAP, most foods available on the market are fortified, eliminating the need to give supplements to children. However, the same institution mentions that a mineral/multivitamin supplement will not do any harm as long as the RDA (recommended dose allowance) is not exceeded for any of the vitamins or minerals.
In this case, parents may be wondering whether they should give vitamin supplements to their toddlers or not. Despite the disagreement between specialists, you should know that the following ideas are generally accepted:
- If you take care not to exceed the daily recommended dose allowance, supplements cannot harm your child.
- There are some children who need daily mineral/multivitamin supplements in order to achieve their daily RDA, especially those who are sensitive to several foods and vegetarians.
- Supplements don’t replace a good diet, so they can never be used as an excuse for poor eating habits. In case your child is not eating properly, you can give him multivitamin supplement, but you will also have to help him change his/her diet.
Will supplements help my child if he’s a picky eater?
Parents who fear that their children may be dealing with vitamin deficiencies because they refuse to eat as they should or because they don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables can always turn to vitamin supplements, as they guarantee that their children will get what they need.
Some people are worried that supplements can make a child overdose on a specific vitamin, especially if the child consumes foods that are rich in that vitamin. However, this possibility is eliminated from the start, so you shouldn’t worry from this point of view.
What vitamins are good for toddlers?
If a toddler doesn’t have special needs, he can take any type of multivitamin supplements designed for children. Avoid giving them supplements under the form of capsules and turn for liquid forms instead.
Vegetarian children don’t have enough amounts of calcium, riboflavin, vitamins D and B12 in their systems. Besides, if the child is also anemic, the doctor will recommend a supplement that contains iron. Bear in mind that supplements don’t provide 100% of the amount of minerals and vitamins needed daily, so you will still have to make sure that the needed nutrients are also obtained from food. In case your child needs calcium but doesn’t like milk, you will have to find other important sources, such as calcium-fortified juices.
Be very careful when giving your children too many vitamins because their aspect is similar to candies. If you give your child the opportunity, he will definitely eat more than he should, and some overdoses can be even lethal, especially iron-based supplements. If you suspect that your child has taken more vitamins that necessary on his/her own, you are advised to call the hospital as soon as possible.
If my child doesn’t eat well one week, can I give him several vitamins per day?
The answer to this question is NO, as there is no reason to expose your child to more vitamins than recommended by specialists, which is 1 pill per day. The belief according to which more is always better is wrong in this case; taking too many vitamins can be very dangerous. Not only that the health of your child can be affected (especially in the case of iron overdoses), but you can also prevent other vitamins from being absorbed, creating a serious nutritional imbalance without even knowing.
In conclusion, supplements are good for your children as long as a doctor says so and as long as the recommended daily allowance is not exceeded. However, your duty is to make sure that your toddler receives the needed daily intake of vitamins from food.