Multivitamins are supplements that can be purchased over the counter. To our benefit, they mimic specific vitamins and minerals found naturally in whole foods. In my experience, many parents want to know if a daily multivitamin is necessary for their children. My answer to them depends on a few factors.
Below are 4 things to consider before giving your child a multivitamin:
1) Breast milk
If your child is less than one year old, breast milk provides all of the vitamins and minerals your baby needs except for Vitamin D. Therefore, babies that are exclusively breastfed need Vitamin D supplements for the first year of life.
2) Whole foods
If your child is more than one-year-old, whole foods are the best sources of vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet that includes a variety of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products is most likely sufficient to meet all your child’s vitamin and mineral needs.
3) Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is the most common vitamin deficiency in children.
In fact, your child may need a Vitamin D supplement if they have a low milk and dairy intake, are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. Also, if your child lives in a climate with little sunlight or has a dark skin complexion, they’re at an increased risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
4) Vegan and vegetarian supplementation
Lastly, if your child has a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, they may be missing key nutrients from animal proteins or dairy products. Therefore, they may need additional supplementation of Vitamins B12, B6, and D as well as calcium, iron, and zinc.
If your child has a specific medical condition, a limited diet, or is taking medications, your registered dietitian or doctor will be able to recommend if a multivitamin is right for them!