Does Your Child Need a Multi-Vitamin?
Many parents struggle with getting their kids to eat healthy, and many feel like they aren’t succeeding. I often get asked, “Does my child need a multi-vitamin?” The answer is usually “no.”
Healthy Food is the Best Option
The best way to get essential vitamins and minerals is not from a pill (or liquid or gummy) but from food. Most kids are pretty good about getting at least a little bit of food from each of the food groups. While kids may not be great about having a wide variety (maybe they only eat three or four different vegetables), or eating large amounts, remember that they have different requirements than us. A serving size for a child is one-third to one-half the size of an adult’s serving size. Three or four different vegetables will offer enough variety, especially if those vegetables happen to be different colors. Another point to keep in mind is that many foods that kids like, such as bread, cereals and juices, are fortified with nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B.
If your child just won’t touch fruits and vegetables, or eats them very rarely, than a multi-vitamin is probably a good idea. You want to make sure to get an appropriate vitamin for your child’s age and to get a type that he or she will actually take. When you do find the right vitamin, be very careful to keep them out of your child’s reach. Those gummy vitamins look and taste just like candy! They can get an overdose of vitamins that can cause problems, especially if they contain iron.
Tips to Help Your Kids Eat More Healthy Foods:
- Make them as appealing as possible. That may mean adding butter or cheese, or letting them dip vegetables in ranch dressing or even ketchup (I know, sounds disgusting, but kids love ketchup!). I have even sprinkled brown sugar on carrots to encourage a taste or two.
- Do not make it a battle. Some kids will go out of their way just to prove a point. If they know they are driving you crazy by not eating, they may decide not to eat your chosen food just because they can. Even young children know that they only have control over few things in their life but what they eat is one of them.
- Do not offer other foods as a reward. This sets kids up to look at some foods as “good” (the rewards) and some as “bad” (the ones they are forced to eat). Rather, encourage your kids to taste everything.
- Don’t give up. Just because your child turned up his nose the last five times you served peas doesn’t mean that you should never put peas on his plate again. It can take a long time (ten different tries or more) for a child to accept a new food. Persistence can pay off!
If you have concerns about your child’s eating habits, or are wondering whether they need a multi-vitamin, discuss it with your child’s doctor.