You want your child to be healthy – and perhaps your doctor has you take vitamins – so it’s natural to wonder if your child should be taking them, too. Well, as with many questions, the answer is: it depends.child-vitamins

Ideally, your child should eat a balanced, healthy diet, rich in lean meats, dairy products, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. In that case, it’s unlikely that supplementation is needed. But, perhaps he or she is a picky eater. In that case (especially if your child doesn’t like whole foods), it makes sense to talk to your doctor about potential nutritional deficiencies. The doctor may order a blood test and recommend vitamin supplements.

An article in lists other reasons why you might want to talk to your doctor about vitamin supplements, including if your child:

  • has a chronic medical condition
  • follows a vegetarian/vegan diet, or a dairy-free one
  • eats a significant amount of convenience or fast foods

If your doctor does recommend a multivitamin, the Mayo Clinic shares the importance of selecting one that’s appropriate for your child’s age. It’s also important that the vitamin supplement you choose doesn’t provide more than 100 percent of the Daily Value of vitamins and minerals. Too high of a level could interact with any medicines your child is taking. takes a closer look at vitamin supplements for children, noting that “little actual research exists to evaluate” the value of these supplements and any potential negative effects. Plus, because formulations differ so much by brand, what’s true for one (that, perhaps, contains few antioxidant vitamins) may not be true for another (that may only contain, say, B vitamins, plus vitamin C). Some contain iron. Others don’t.

Because a well-balanced diet is so crucial, here is more information about what that means for children.

More About a Healthy Diet

Certain vitamins and minerals are especially important for growing children, with offering guidance. These include:

  • Vitamin A: good sources include milk and cheese, as well as eggs and vegetables that are yellow to orange (for example, carrots, squash and yams)
  • Vitamin Bs: this family of vitamins includes B2, B2, B6 and B12. Fortunately, they are available in a wide variety of foods, including meat, chicken and fish, plus milk, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans and more. Also encourage your child to consume citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries and kiwi, plus green veggies.
  • Calcium: again, milk and cheese are good sources, as is yogurt, tofu and orange juice that is calcium-fortified.
  • Iron: good sources are red meats, turkey and pork, plus spinach, beans and prunes.

Watch that your child’s diet doesn’t contain significant amounts of sugar, sodium or saturated fats. Ensure he or she does get enough omega-3 fats, found in fatty fish such as salmon. Then, if you are still concerned that your child is not getting enough vitamins and minerals, definitely talk to his or her doctor.

Final Thoughts

Supplements should supplement what your child is getting through a healthy diet, not serve as a substitute for healthy eating. “You cannot feed your kids McDonald’s and a multivitamin,” the US News article points out, “and think all your bases are covered.”

Here’s another reason why it’s important to work with your doctor before giving your child vitamins: over-supplementation can pose a threat. That’s also the reason why it’s crucial to keep all vitamins (adult and for children) out of the reach of your children and emphasize that they are not candy.