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Vitamins and Supplements Kids Need for Healthy Growth

Vitamins and Supplements Kids Need

Children need vitamins and minerals for healthy growth. Without them, their physical, mental, and emotional development can suffer. The best way to make sure your kids grow up healthy and strong is with a healthy, balanced diet. Unfortunately, the Daily Values printed on supplement labels (determined by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA) do not reflect the nutritional needs recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Here are the 7 most important vitamins and minerals, their FDA recommended Daily Values as well as the NIH and the recommended daily allowances.

Top 7 Vitamins & Minerals for Kids

Vitamin A:

This vitamin plays a role in the repair of tissue and bone, and helps support skin, eye, and teeth health. Food sources include eggs, cheese, milk, yams, squash, and carrots. The FDA recommends 2,500 IUs for ages 2-4 and 5,000 IUs for ages 4+.

The NIH recommends that children get the following amount of Vitamin A for their RDA.

Age

FDA Daily Value (IU)

NIH RDA Dose for Males (in IU from Dietary Supplements)

NIH RDA Dose for Females (in IU from Dietary Supplements)

NIH RDA Pregnancy Dose (in IU from Dietary Supplements)

NIH RDA Lactation Dose (in IU from Dietary Supplements)

0–6 months*

1500

2667

2667

 

 

7–12 months*

1500

3333

3333

 

 

1–3 years

2500

2000

2000

 

 

4–8 years

5000

2667

2667

 

 

9–13 years

5000

4000

4000

 

 

14–18 years

5000

6000

4667

5000

8000

19–50 years

5000

6000

4667

5133

8667

51+ years

5000

6000

4667

 

 

Bottom of Form

Pregnant/ Lactating Women

8000

 

 

 

 

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Adapted from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

B Vitamins:

B vitamins help metabolize food for the production of energy, as well as promote healthy nervous and immune systems. Food sources include fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, eggs, cheese, milk, and soybeans. B Vitamins come in many different forms but are water soluble so there is less of a worry of overdose. Any excess B vitamins that you consume and do not use are rapidly passed excreted through urine.

 

FDA Daily Value Age 2-4

FDA Daily Value Ages 4+

FDA DV Pregnant/Lactating Women

Minimum dose to reach RDA for all ages/pregnancy/lactation status

 B1 (thiamine)

.7 mg

1.5 mg

1.7 mg

1.4 mg

B2 (riboflavin)

.8 mg

1.7 mg

2.0 mg

1.6 mg

B3 (niacin)

9 mg

20 mg

20 mg

Not Published

 B5 (pantothenic acid)

5 mg

10 mg

10 mg

Not Published

 B6.

.7 mg

2 mg

2.5 mg

2.0 mg

 B7 (biotin)

150 mcg

300 mcg

300 mcg

Not Published

 B12.

3 mcg

6 mcg

8 mcg

2.8 mg

 Folic acid

200 mcg

400 mcg

800 mcg

1200 mcg from Dietary Supplements

 

Vitamin C:

This vitamin is needed for the growth and development of skin, muscles, and connective tissue. Food sources include tomatoes, citrus fruit, leafy green vegetables, strawberries, and kiwis. The FDA recommends that children 2-4 years old receive 40mg of Vitamin C while those aged 4+ get 60mg.

The NIH recommends the following RDA for vitamin C:

Age

FDA DV

NIH RDA Male

NIH RDA Female

NIH RDA Pregnancy

NIH RDA Lactation

0–6 months

35 mg

40 mg*

40 mg*

 

 

7–12 months

35 mg

50 mg*

50 mg*

 

 

1–3 years

40 mg

15 mg

15 mg

 

 

4–8 years

60 mg

25 mg

25 mg

 

 

9–13 years

60 mg

45 mg

45 mg

 

 

14–18 years

60 mg

75 mg

65 mg

80 mg

115 mg

19+ years

60 mg

90 mg

75 mg

85 mg

120 mg

NIH Smokers

 

Smokers require 35 mg/day more vitamin C than nonsmokers.

Pregnant/ Lactating Women

60 mg

 

 

 

 


Adapted from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

Vitamin D:

Necessary for the formation of bones and teeth, vitamin D also assists the body in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D deficiency in children can result in the malformation of bones and weak, brittle bones. The best source is sunlight. However, sunlight exposure increases the risk of damaging skin. Food sources include fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon, as well as beef liver, cheese, and eggs. The FDA recommends that infants between 2 and 4 years old as well as those that are 4+ get 400 IUs per day

The NIH recommends the following RDA for Vitamin D.

Top of Form

Age

Bottom of Form

FDA DV

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

0–12 months*

400 IU (10 mcg)

400 IU (10 mcg)

400 IU (10 mcg)

 

 

 

 

1–13 years

400 IU (10 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

 

 

 

 

14–18 years

400 IU (10 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

19–50 years

400 IU (10 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

51–70 years

400 IU (10 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

600 IU (15 mcg)

 

 

 

 

>70 years

400 IU (10 mcg)

800 IU (20 mcg)

800 IU (20 mcg)

 

 

 

 

Pregnant/Lactating

Bottom of Form

400 IU (10 mcg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


* Adequate Intake (AI)

Calcium:

Children need iron to help their bodies build sturdy bones as they grow. Food sources include cheese, yogurt, milk, tofu, and fortified fruit juice.  The FDA recommends that children between 2 and 4 years old get 800mg of calcium per day and those that are 4+ get 1,000 mg.

The NIH recommended daily allowances for Calcium are below:

Age

FDA DV

Male

Female

Pregnant

Lactating

0–6 months*

600 mg

200 mg

200 mg

 

 

7–12 months*

600 mg

260 mg

260 mg

 

 

1–3 years

800 mg

700 mg

700 mg

 

 

4–8 years

1000 mg

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

 

 

9–13 years

1000 mg

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

 

 

14–18 years

1000 mg

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

1,300 mg

19–50 years

1000 mg

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

51–70 years

1000 mg

1,000 mg

1,200 mg

 

 

71+ years

1000 mg

1,200 mg

1,200 mg

 

 

Pregnant/Lactating

1300 mg

 

 

 

 

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Adapted from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/

Iron:

Iron is vital for the formation of healthy red blood cells and for building muscle. Food sources include lean red meat, spinach, pork, poultry, beans, grapefruit, and prunes. The FDA recommends 10 mg per day for kids 2-4 years old and 18mg of iron per day for those 4+.

The NIH recommends the following RDAs for iron

Age

FDA DV

NIH RDA Male

NIH RDA Female

NIH RDA Pregnancy

NIH RDA Lactation

Birth to 6 months

15 mg

0.27 mg*

0.27 mg*

 

 

7–12 months

15 mg

11 mg

11 mg

 

 

1–3 years

10 mg

7 mg

7 mg

 

 

4–8 years

18 mg

10 mg

10 mg

 

 

9–13 years

18 mg

8 mg

8 mg

 

 

14–18 years

18 mg

11 mg

15 mg

27 mg

10 mg

19–50 years

18 mg

8 mg

18 mg

27 mg

9 mg

Pregnant/Lactating

18 mg

 

 

 

 


* Adequate Intake (AI)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fats fall into several different subtypes: EPA, DHA, and ALA. DHA is an important omega-3 for children because it helps to nourish the developing brain and nervous system. Most infant formulas are fortified with this nutrient. Food sources include fish, walnuts, vegetable oil, and flax seed. Eggs, milk, and yogurt are often fortified with omega-3s, which make it a viable source as well.  There are currently no FDA recommended Daily Values for omega-3 fats.

The NIH does not have an RDA for omega-3. It instead suggests a level of Adequate Intage (AI) when there is insufficient evidence to develop an RDA. It recommends the following amounts of omega-3 fats to ensure nutritional adequacy:

Age

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

Birth to 6 months*

0.5 g

0.5 g

 

 

7–12 months*

0.5 g

0.5 g

 

 

1–3 years**

0.7 g

0.7 g

 

 

4–8 years**

0.9 g

0.9 g

 

 

9–13 years**

1.2 g

1.0 g

 

 

14–18 years**

1.6 g

1.1 g

1.4 g

1.3 g

19-50 years**

1.6 g

1.1 g

1.4 g

1.3 g

51+ years**

1.6 g

1.1 g

 

 

*As total omega-3s
**As ALA

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/

Multivitamins and Probiotics for Kids

Probiotics for Immune Support

You want your children to grow up strong and healthy with a good immune system. A great way to support the development of their immune system is probiotics. These beneficial organisms normally inhabit the GI tract and compete against bad, pathogenic organisms. Food sources for probiotics include fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso soup.

Do Babies & Infants Need Vitamin Supplements?

For the first six months of life, breast milk is the only food your infant needs to grow. Weaning your child from breast milk should be a gradual process, and replacing breast milk with infant formula can make it easier and ensure that your young child is getting the nutrients they need.

Here are some suggested formula guidelines:

  • Infants under 12 months: Iron-fortified infant formula.
  • 12 to 18 months: Follow-up formula or whole milk (3.25% milk fat[1]).
  • 18 to 24 months: Whole milk.
  • Two years and over: Whole or 2% milk[2].

Once your child is 12 months old, you should not give him or her more than 24 ounces of milk each day, or they will be too full to eat solid food. You can begin to introduce solid food around four to six months. At this time, your baby will start to take less breast milk or formula.

Supplemental vitamin D is often recommended for weaning children. Iron-rich foods are also important at this stage of life, since they are now lacking the iron-fortified milk and could potentially develop an iron deficiency, which may impact healthy growth[3]. You should avoid foods with added salt or sugar, as sugar may lead to a risk of tooth decay and salt may disrupt kidney function and lead to high blood pressure later in life[4]. Keep in mind that while baby formula contains a similar amount of salt in breast milk, it’s still important to check food labels for sodium and sugar levels.

Children Who Need Supplementation

The best way to keep your child healthy and growing strong is by providing a balanced diet. If your child is growing normally, you probably won’t need to provide a vitamin supplement. However, there are some circumstances when a children’s nutritional supplement is valuable, such as if your child:

  • Is showing signs of delayed physical or developmental growth.
  • Suffers from certain food allergies or chronic diseases
  • Has a special diet, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet

Foods are the best source of nutrients. However, vitamin supplements can help your kids if they are not getting enough vitamins and minerals through food alone. A supplement is particularly helpful if your child has been sick, is a picky eater, or has a restricted diet. The best way to provide nutritional supplements for children is in the form of gummy vitamins. They are convenient, tasty, and easy for kids to swallow. Look for children’s supplements that do not contain artificial preservatives, flavoring, or coloring, because just like their foods, their supplements should be as natural as possible to encourage healthy growth.

 

[1] https://milklife.com/articles/nutrition/types-of-dairy-milk

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2720508/

[3] http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/iron.html

[4] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/824.aspx?CategoryID=51

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