21 Jul 2022 | 4 min Read
Author | 636 Articles
Should I give my child health supplements? This may be a question on your mind. While health supplements are usually not harmful to children, they normally get enough nutrition from the food they eat. You may decide to give your kids health supplements for safety and good health, after consulting your child’s paediatrician.
Health supplements when taken in the right dose by your child, won’t do any harm. However, it is important that health supplements don’t take the place of a healthy diet.
Community Expert Dr Pooja Marathe says,” There are some supplements which can work wonders, but some vary in the taste or the texture, which the child might dislike.”
Children who follow vegetarian or vegan diets may need supplements of vitamin B12 as this vitamin is only found in animal-based foods. Furthermore, children who have celiac disease are at a higher risk for nutritional deficiencies which include lower levels of vitamin a, d, e, iron and folate and may need supplements.
If your child has a poor appetite, drinks a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages, takes certain medicines or has any chronic medical conditions that interfere with the diet intake may need a supplement.
According to Community Expert Dr Pooja Marathe, “Ideally a balanced diet works wonders for kids to nourish them. A few mothers feel protein supplements will work wonders for their tots, but it’s not true as most supplements have excess sugar which is not good for their growing health. This generally works between the age of 2 to 5 years.”
Parents should aim to give their little ones a well-rounded diet so that their child’s daily recommended vitamin and mineral intake is met. A balanced diet must include dairy or alternatives to dairy along with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and foods rich in protein foods like poultry, legumes, fish, eggs and nuts and including beans and lentils. All vitamins and minerals are important for growth and development, however, some are especially important for children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children do not get the right amount of iron and calcium needed from their diets. Iron is found in foods like beans and spinach. It helps in building muscle and is also needed to produce red blood cells. Some common signs of low iron levels include nervousness, a lack of energy, and increased infections.
Calcium is needed to promote the growth of healthy bones. It is found in milk and fortified plant-based beverages. It is also found in smaller amounts in broccoli and spinach. A lack of calcium in the child can lead to poor growth and osteoporosis later in life.
Some other important vitamins include vitamin D, A and B. Vitamin D helps to control the absorption of calcium and supports the development of bones and teeth. Vitamin D can be produced in the body after sunlight exposure and is also found in some foods, like fortified dairy alternatives of dairy. It is also found in egg yolks and fish oils.
If your child consumes less than 32 ounces of vitamin D-fortified milk or other alternatives of dairy, then they may need a supplement to meet the recommended amounts. Feeding your child excessive milk to meet vitamin D is not recommended and can cause low iron in the body.
Vitamin B helps with metabolism and energy and is found in animal products such as eggs and dairy, meat, nuts, beans and soybeans. Vitamin A helps in promoting growth and keeping the skin and eyes healthy. It also helps in building immunity and helps in repairing tissue and bone. Some sources of vitamin A include milk, cheese, yellow and orange vegetables and eggs.
Talk to your paediatrician about the supplements before giving them to your child. Taking large amounts of vitamins that are above the recommended daily amount can be harmful and lead to symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea or headaches. Ensure you store supplements out of reach from children.
Supplement bottles always do not have child-proof lids, therefore one needs to practice caution when supplements are at home with small children around.
While some kids need health supplements, the goal should be to get the vitamins and minerals through food and drinks for growing children. Consult your healthcare provider, if you feel your child may need a supplement.