Not only do children need minerals and vitamins to grow and develop physically, they also need them to feed their brains and perform well at school. In an ideal world children would get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their food, but we no longer live in that world.
Food provides enough vitamins and minerals doesn’t it?
This is the argument many people put forward but there are several reasons why it is not necessarily the case any more, depending on where you live and what you eat.
- Much of the food we eat lacks the nutrients it used to have;
- The widespread use of pesticides and fertilizers means that when children eat fruit and vegetables they are eating chemicals as well (see Nutrition, We Are What We Eat);
- Fried food and sugary snacks are generally devoid of vital nutrients;
- Fizzy drinks strip the bones of phosphorus.
The case for kids’ vitamins
Author and nutritional therapist Barbara Cousins is adamant, ‘Parents must be prepared to make their children eat sensibly. Children desperately need minerals because they come from parents who haven’t got enough.’
Patrick Holford, author of The Optimum Nutrition Bible and founder of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition believes that children need supplements as soon as they come off breast milk.
He says, ‘The evidence shows clearly that both adults and children who achieve optimal intakes of nutrients are healthier. I therefore recommend that children have superhealthy diets and this means supplementing’.
- Optimal levels of Vitamin C are 300 to 500mg a day but it is unlikely that any children will eat that much.’ Additional Vitamin C will definitely boost their immune systems,’ Patrick says.
- Vitamins B and C are essential for brain development which is most crucial between two and 12.
- Omega 3 fatty acids which include fish oils or flaxseed (linseed) oil, are essential for healthy brain development;
- Once girls have started their periods they need iron, calcium and zinc;
- Calcium is essential for growth at all young ages and some children get precious little if they are not keen on cheese or milk.
What supplements kids need
Multivitamins that have been specially made for children ensure that they are getting a good spread of nutrients. Taking one supplement also prevents them getting too much of one vitamin or mineral. Children are much more susceptible to overdosing than adults and should only be given the recommended dosage for their age.
|Vitamin A||2,500 iu a day for under 1, up to 5,500 iu for 12+||Can be toxic, so don’t overdose. Don’t mix with fish oils.|
|Vitamin B (1-12)||B1, B2: 3mg for under 1, 20mg 12+; B12: 3mcg for under 1 up to 10mcg for over 12s; B3, 5,6: 7mg for under one, to 35mg for 12+||Could be toxic in the long term if overdosed. B6 taken at night can prompt vivid dreams.|
|Vitamin C||100 mg for under one year to 625mg for 12+||Overdosing could cause diarrhoea, and other stomach problems, but excess is quickly excreted.|
|Vitamin D||200 iu up to 11, 300iu for 12+||Can be toxic, so must not be taken in large doses. Don’t mix with fish oils.|
|Vitamin E||10iu under 1, going up in increments of 5, to 70 at 12+||Unlikely to be toxic as it is eliminated. Too much could cause stomach upsets.|
|Selenium||from 7mcg (under 1) to 20mcg at 12+||Very toxic if overdosed so only take from one source only (multi-vitamin).|
|Iron||2mg under 1, up to 8mg at 12+||Can be very toxic if taken in too large quantities, or when not needed (by boys who eat lots of meat).|
|Calcium||150mg any age||Too much long-term is dangerous.|
|Magnesium||25mg (under 1) to 95mg for 12+||Not toxic, but can be dangerous is too little calcium in the body.|
|Zinc||3mg (under 1) to 12mg (12+)||Non-toxic unless the dose is exceeded by several times.|
|Chromium||10 (under 1) to 30 (12+)||Unlikely to be toxic.|
|Manganese||0.7mg (under 1) to 2 (12+)||Not toxic as a supplement.|
|Fatty acids: (Omega 3 & 6)||Best way to take is to have a mixture of ground seeds or a supplement made for children||Not toxic for healthy children, but fish oils should not be mixed. High doses of cod liver oil can be toxic. Evening Primrose Oil is best for teenage girls to balance hormones.|
|Folic acid||50mcg for under 1s, and 100mcgs for 12+||Overdosing could cause upset stomach, lack of energy and insomnia|
|Garlic||Only needed in food – no need for children to take capsules||Safe in food, unless it causes stomach upsets|
For details of recommended intake see The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford – click on the Amazon carousel.
A good multi-vitamin is the safest way of giving children what they need ensuring that they do not overdose on Vitamins D or A or selenium. There are special children’s vitamins and ones for teenagers too.
|Multivitamins and Minerals Junior||Biocare||60||£10.25|
|Junior Omega 3 and 6 tablets||Essential Balance||120||£14.90|
|Teenvital tablets||Health Aid||30||£6.49|
|Dinochews||Higher Nature||30 capsules||£5.50|
|Animal Parade Omega 3/6/9||Nature’s Plus||90||£21.10|
|Viridikid Multivitamins and Minerals Mini||Viridian||90 vege caps||£15.20|
|Viridikid Nutritional Oil Blend 100% Organic (Omegas)||Viridian||200ml||£9.50|
|*** Please click here to order these products from the Nutri Centre ***|
Food is important
Healthy eating isn’t seen as ‘cool’ like junk food, but it does improve skin condition and hair – very appealing to teenagers who want to attract the opposite sex.
A multivitamin should be accompanied by healthy eating with plenty of:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Fresh fish
- Garlic in meals
- Water to drink instead of squashes or fizzy drinks full of either sugar or artificial sweeteners.