When it comes to the question of whether or not vitamin supplements are necessary for their children, many parents are divided. Some believe as long as their children have a balanced and healthy diet, they don’t need supplements. Others feel whether they need it or not, giving their child a multivitamin is an insurance policy. The truth is both sides have the right idea.
You should always do your best to meet all of your child’s nutrition requirements from food. Taking a multivitamin will never make up for a poor diet. A diet rich in a variety of whole, unprocessed, natural foods is the ideal place to get the wide array of nutrients your child’s growing body requires. The problem is it can be a challenge getting your child to consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. A lot of kids are very picky eaters. For some children, getting them to try new foods can be like pulling teeth – and they need those teeth to eat those Brussels sprouts! And with busy schedules, it can be difficult to find the time to prepare a well-balanced meal. (I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but anything involving a microwave doesn’t count!) To fill in the gaps, I recommend supplements.
Unfortunately, a lot of our foods are grown in nutrient-depleted soil, and the animals that are fed these foods are nutrient deficient as well. So, consuming these foods doesn’t guarantee you are getting the nutrients you expect. One solution is to exclusively consume foods that are organic and come from sustainable farms. This can be expensive, and in some areas not an option. Even if you are able to sustain a diet of only organic foods – not all organic foods are ideal. Some come from large industrial farms where soil quality is not a priority. Again, I recommend supplements to fill in the gaps.
Some who oppose supplements are worried their children may get too much of certain vitamins. While vitamin toxicity is possible, it’s rare. To avoid overdosing, find a multivitamin that provides no more than 50 percent of the adult RDA for major vitamins and minerals. Once a child reaches age 12, a full adult dosage is fine (always check with your health care professional, especially if your child has a unique health issue). Another way to avoid accidental overdose is to keep vitamins out of reach of children. Some vitamins are tasty, and kids might think of them as candy.
When choosing a vitamin for your child, be aware that many products on the market are poor quality. If you’re going to supplement, do your homework. Find a high-quality vitamin that is not synthetic, but rather sourced from whole foods. These can be a bit more expensive due to the cost of using proper ingredients, mixing them and packaging them in an ideal way, but it’s essential to use high-quality vitamins.
So, in essence, both sides have it right. While you should try to get all the nutrients your child needs from a balanced and healthy diet, it’s a good idea to insure that your child is getting everything he/she needs to be as healthy as possible by supplementing with a multivitamin. A quality vitamin is a great insurance policy.
Justin Noble is a certified nutrition coach, children’s book author and long-time lover of children’s stories. Raised in the Texas Hill Country, Justin relocated to New York City where he was inspired with the idea behind the My Body Village series, co-created with wife Le-Anne. For more information, please visit www.MyBodyVillage.com