Learning about healthy nutrition at an early age can help young people to understand why a healthy balanced diet is important, and why some adults use supplements to fill potential gaps in their diet or to improve their general health and wellness.
As we grow and develop the number and type of nutrients that we need changes. Adults and children usually need the same types of nutrients as adults, but in smaller amounts. For example, calcium and Vitamin D are important for children to build strong bones and for bone tissue development (Abrams, 2021). Omega-3 is also vital for children in their early life as it is critical in the development of the brain as are iron, zinc and vitamins A, B6 and B12 (Georgieff, Ramel and Cusick, 2018).
If your child eats a balanced diet chances are they don’t need a multivitamin. Children who follow a restricted diet or cannot absorb nutrients properly from food may also benefit from a specific supplement, with the majority of their nutrients coming from their food. There is also the chance that too much of certain vitamins and minerals may be harmful to your child.
Here are some of the things you should look out for if you’re considering finding a multivitamin for your child:
Added Ingredients: In order to make multivitamins more palatable to children, they are often made in chewable or gummy forms and sweetened with artificial flavourings, sweeteners and colours. Look for a brand which offers natural flavourings and avoids artificial ingredients.
Hidden Ingredients: When choosing any kind of supplement, you should always be certain that the one you choose isn’t hiding anything. Look for a brand which has its products third party tested to avoid contaminants, heavy metals and other pollutants which can be found in supplements.
Megadoses: Some vitamins and minerals can be toxic to children if they are taken in large amounts. This is especially true of fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, C, D and K, which can build up in the body over time, so whilst these vitamins and minerals are necessary, too much can cause a problem (Elliott, 2019). Further to this, multivitamins containing iron should not be offered to children unless prescribed by a healthcare professional. Even small amounts of iron can build up in your child’s body and cause iron poisoning (Ho-Wang Yuen and Wenxia Becker, 2019).
Vitamin D: In the Northern hemisphere, our winters have very little sun. This is a shame because our main source of Vitamin D comes from our skin being exposed to sunlight, which means that adults and children alike need to supplement with Vitamin D in the winter months. Children need Vitamin D just as much as adults, as it’s vital for proper bone development, and children who have a restricted diet, typically wear clothing that covers the majority or have darker skin may need to take a supplement all year around (Esposito et al., 2019).
Omega-3: You’ll often find that multivitamins for children contain levels of Omega-3. This vital fatty acid is really important for children’s development of the brain and eyes, so even if you decide against using a multivitamin for your children, then a separate omega-3 supplement might be appropriate. The benefits of omega-3 begin even before your child is born, as it is vital for foetal development, promoting healthy growth and optimal birth weight (Newberry et al., 2016).
Vitamin B12: This is particularly relevant if your child is following a vegetarian or vegan diet, as most available sources of Vitamin B12 are derived from animal-based ingredients. B12 is responsible for the creation of healthy red blood cells, nerves and DNA, as well as providing energy, and supporting the health of our cells. In fact, a lack of Vitamin B12 during childhood can be responsible for neurodevelopmental delays (Jain et al., 2014).
The conclusion, then, is that it’s very likely your children don’t require a multivitamin if they’re eating a healthy, balanced diet which contains all of the vitamins and minerals they need to support healthy growth and development. However, some children may benefit from specific supplementation, such as Omega-3, D3 and B12 in order to aid with continued healthy development and growth. This is especially relevant for vegan children, those who may have religious dietary requirements or specific metabolic conditions which affect how nutrients are absorbed.
Vivo Life’s collection of plant-based liquid supplements may help to provide your child with the boost of omega-3, D3 or B12 they might need. The easy to swallow liquid can be dropped into a smoothie or juice, has no artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners and is third party tested for over 500 contaminants for your peace of mind. However, you should always discuss any potential supplementation with your child’s healthcare provider to ensure safety and suitability.
Elliott, C. (2019). Assessing Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements Marketed to Children in Canada. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(22), p.4326. doi:10.3390/ijerph16224326.
Esposito, S., Leonardi, A., Lanciotti, L., Cofini, M., Muzi, G. and Penta, L. (2019). Vitamin D and growth hormone in children: a review of the current scientific knowledge. Journal of Translational Medicine, 17(1). doi:10.1186/s12967-019-1840-4.
Newberry, S.J., Chung, M., Booth, M., Maglione, M.A., Tang, A.M., O’Hanlon, C.E., Wang, D.D., Okunogbe, A., Huang, C., Motala, A., Trimmer, M., Dudley, W., Shanman, R., Coker, T.R. and Shekelle, P.G. (2016). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Maternal and Child Health: An Updated Systematic Review. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment, [online] (224), pp.1–826. doi:10.23970/AHRQEPCERTA224.