Healthy Habits: Vitamins for Little Ones
Wednesday, May 05, 2021

In an ideal world, kids should get their vitamins from a balanced, healthy diet that includes:

  • Milk and dairy products (e.g. cheese and yogurt)
  • Plenty of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables
  • Protein (chicken, fish, meat, and eggs)
  • Whole grains (steel-cut oats, brown rice)

As we well know, given the hectic nature of our daily lives, particularly now with many of us working from home and previously with home-schooling, those ideal, nutrient-packed, home-cooked meals are not always possible.

For this reason, and the others outlined below, paediatricians may recommend a daily multi-vitamin or particular supplement for:

  • Children who do not eat regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods, or who tend to eat a lot of fast/processed food
  • Fussy eaters who do not eat enough food
  • Children with chronic medical conditions (e.g. asthma, digestive issues), particularly if they are taking medication. Always consult with your child’s doctor before putting them on a vitamin or supplement if they are taking medications of any sort
  • Children who are on a vegetarian or vegan diet in which an iron supplement may be needed, or a dairy-free diet in which a calcium supplement may be needed. This also applies to children on other restricted diets
  • Children who drink a lot of fizzy drinks – these can actually drain vitamins and minerals from their bodies

Top 6 Vitamins & Minerals for Children

The nutrition labels on food packaging can show you which foods contain the proper nutrients.

1. Vitamin A

  • Promotes normal growth and development
  • Promotes tissue and bone repair
  • Promotes healthy skin, eyes and immune responses
  • Good sources include: milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow/orange veg like carrots, sweet potato and squash

2. B Vitamins (B2, B3, B6 and B12)

    • Aids metabolism & energy production
    • Aids healthy circulatory & nervous systems
    • Good sources include: meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese and beans

    3. Vitamin C

      • This is the body’s tool for healing and fighting off infection
      • Strengthens tissue, muscles and skin
      • Good sources include: citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli

      4. Vitamin D

      • Helps the body form and maintain strong teeth and bones
      • Assists with the absorption of minerals such as calcium
      • Good sources include: fortified dairy products, fish oils and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
      • Adequate exposure to sunlight is also a way to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D (safely, wearing SPF of course), as sunlight stimulates vitamin D – which naturally occurs in the skin – to become active in the body. However, in Ireland, we do not get sufficient amounts of vitamin D from the rare sunlight, so we need to get it from other sources

      5. Iron

      • This is important for kids, particularly during periods of accelerated growth
      • Contributes to the production of blood, essential for healthy red blood cells & the building of muscles
      • Good sources include: beef, turkey, fish, beans, pork, spinach, fortified breads and cereals

      6. Calcium

        • Vital for building strong and healthy bones and teeth as a child grows
        • Consuming inadequate amounts during childhood can affect growth and development, while also running the risk of leading to weak, fragile bones (potentially leading to osteoporosis in later life)
        • Good sources include: milk (2-3 glasses per day), sardines, yoghurt, cheese, tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice and broccoli

        Large doses of vitamins are not a good idea for children. Vitamins A, D, E and K, along with iron can be toxic if children get too much of them.

        Ask your child's GP before adding a vitamin or supplement to their diet, then pop in to your local StayWell Pharmacy and ask our in store vitamin advisor about our wide range of vitamins and supplements available for your little ones.

        Information sources: WebMD, Standford Children's Health