Choosing a Vitamin for Your Child

By Alan Greene, MD, FAAP

You already back up your computer’s hard drive. Why not back up your child’s food drive too?

Kids are designed to thrive on a balanced diet of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and lean sources of protein and calcium. But in reality, most children today don’t get nearly all of the vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients they need from what they eat. A daily multivitamin or mineral supplement can help to greatly improve children’s overall health.*

A daily dietary supplement can help fill in the small nutritional holes, gaps and cracks that are so common in children’s diets. Since kids’ bodies and brains grow especially quickly in their first three years, begin supplements after your child’s first birthday.

Not all vitamins are created equal. When choosing a vitamin, avoid:

• Hydrogenated vegetable oil
• Artificial dyes (Blue No. 2, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 6)
• High fructose corn syrup
• Artificial flavors
• Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame
• Preservatives such as butylated hydroxytoluene

When deciding on a vitamin, look for natural options, as well as ones with low sugar and no allergens.

How much does your child need? It depends on her diet, but in general, be sure your child is getting enough of the most important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients (see The Greene 13, below, to find out which ones are my top priority). Most children don’t need large amounts of vitamins or minerals.

Whatever you choose, the simple habit of taking a daily supplement will back up your child’s food drive and help set her up for a long, healthy life.*

The Greene 13

Kids commonly don’t get enough:

1. Calcium

2. Fiber

3. Folic acid

4. Iron

5. Magnesium

6. Omega 3 fatty acids (especially DHA)

7. Phosphorous

8. Potassium

9. Vitamin A

10. Vitamin C

11. Vitamin D

12. Vitamin E

13. Zinc


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