Nutritional supplements for children: are they necessary?

As a parent, you do everything you can to practice healthy eating habits. You really try to throw some broccoli in the middle of some fries to make sure your child is getting enough nutrients. Even if you try to incorporate most of these healthy habits into your child’s diet, the reality is that the broccoli would end up on the ground rather than your stomach. Although adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is crucial to supporting healthy growth and development in children, it doesn’t necessarily happen that way. When a child eats a healthy, balanced diet, he or she does not need additional nutritional supplements. However, some children are more sensitive to deficiencies and could benefit from supplementation.

Why do children need nutritional supplements?

Children would need nutritional supplements in the event of deficiencies or certain illnesses:

1. Vitamin B12 deficiency

Children who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may need vitamin B12 supplementation, as it is found exclusively in foods of animal origin.

Read also: Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Here are the Foods You Should Eat and Avoid

2. Those who suffer from celiac disease

Likewise, children diagnosed with celiac disease are at higher risk of nutritional deficiencies and may benefit from supplements.

Some children with celiac disease may need nutritional supplements. Image provided by: Shutterstock

3. Children who eat sugary foods or have poor appetite

Additionally, children with poor appetites or who consume too many sugary drinks consume a lot of specific medications, or chronic health conditions that hinder nutrient absorption may also require supplementation.

4. Iron deficiency

Many children do not get enough iron and calcium in their diet. Iron can be found in foods like beans and spinach. It plays a crucial role in muscle development and red blood cell production. Symptoms of low iron include fatigue, anxiety and increased susceptibility to infections.

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5. Calcium deficiency

Calcium is essential for the growth of strong bones. It can be obtained from sources like milk, sardines, broccoli and spinach. Insufficient calcium intake can lead to stunted growth and the development of osteoporosis later in life.

Read also: 6 Warning Signs of Calcium Deficiency You Should Pay Attention to

6. Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium while contributing to the development of bones and teeth. It is produced by our bodies when exposed to sunlight and can be found in certain foods such as fortified dairy products or their alternatives, egg yolks and fish oils. Children who consume less than 32 ounces of vitamin D-fortified milk or dairy alternatives daily may need a supplement to meet recommended intake levels. However, excessive consumption is not beneficial as it can lead to low iron levels in the body.

7. Low Levels of B Vitamins

Children with low levels of B vitamins may also need supplements. B vitamins are important for metabolism and energy production and are found in eggs, nuts, beans and soy.

8. Vitamin A deficiency

Vitamin A promotes normal growth while promoting healthy skin and eyesight, boosting immunity and also promoting the repair of tissues, including bones. Excellent sources include yellow/orange vegetables as well as milk, cheese and eggs.

Children with a vitamin A deficiency may also need supplements. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

A healthy diet helps meet the nutritional needs of children

Parents should aim for a diverse diet to ensure their child gets the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. A well-balanced diet includes dairy products or alternatives, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods like fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and lentils. Although all vitamins and minerals contribute to growth and development, some of them are of particular importance to children’s health.

What parents should keep in mind!

Before giving your child any supplements, be sure to discuss them with the doctor. Although supplements may be necessary in some situations, it is ideal for growing children to get essential vitamins and minerals from foods and drinks. If you think your child might need a supplement, ask their healthcare provider for advice.

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