I’ve got an overview including the ins and outs of choosing toddler multivitamins. Keep reading for more!
Are you concerned your child doesn’t get enough vitamins from food?
Toddlers eat independently and enjoy an array of finger foods. Appetites fluctuate with growth spurts. Sometimes little ones are constantly hungry and other times toddlers don’t finish what’s on the plate.
The good news is most of the time children get the nutrients they need from food.
Let’s dive into when a multivitamin for toddlers might be necessary and a little about the safety of young children’s vitamins.
When Should My Child Take Multivitamins?
A diet low in critical nutrients can have long-term effects on the health and development of children for years to come.
Supplements help prevent and treat vitamin deficiencies. But, a balanced diet loaded with nutrient-rich foods should be the first goal!
According to the director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, most children can get enough nutrients from food. However, there are some exceptions.
If you’re concerned about vitamins for your two year old or older toddler, ask your pediatrician whether your they need a multivitamin.
Extreme Picky Eating
While picky eating might be a struggle at the dinner table, the biggest concern for most parents is whether their child gets enough food to grow and stay healthy.
Picky eaters are still likely to meet their recommended daily needs for most nutrients. This is because commonly eaten foods such as juice, milk, cereal, grains and flour are fortified with iron, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C and A.
Even Goldfish crackers are fortified with B vitamins and iron!
However, if a child cuts out entire food groups or refuses to eat meals, you might see a change in growth and development.
My course on nutrition for extremely picky eating dives into understanding picking eating and the treatment options available.
Avoiding foods that contain allergens is the only way to treat a food allergy. Unfortunately, toddlers with multiple food allergies miss out on many valuable nutrients.
Zinc, calcium and vitamin D are some of the most important nutrients for children. Many of the nine allergens below are excellent sources of these key nutrients.
- Peanuts, tree nuts and sesame seeds – vitamin E and zinc
- Soy – B-vitamins, iron, zinc
- Dairy – calcium and vitamins A and D
- Wheat – B vitamins and fiber
- Fish and shellfish – zinc and iodine
- Eggs – choline and biotin
Eating a plant-based diet has many health benefits. In addition, some families eat a vegan diet for ethical reasons and want their children to eat the same way as the rest of the family.
With help from adults, a plant-based diet for kids can be healthy and nutritious. However, there are a few vitamins to consider, especially for growing children.
Plant foods are very low in vitamin B12 and vitamin D and it’s difficult to meet the daily requirements without a supplement.
Celiac disease affects how well the body absorbs many vitamins. Poor absorption of vitamins can lead to vitamin deficiencies, especially in iron, folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin D, copper, and zinc.
A gluten-free diet is the best treatment for Celiac disease but eliminating gluten means cutting out fortified wheat products, which are good sources of B vitamins and fiber.
Iron deficiency can have detrimental long-term effects on brain development.
A lack of iron-rich foods, lead exposure, or excessive amounts of calcium can lead to iron deficiency.
Many foods, from fortified cereals and grains to vegetables, contain iron, so don’t worry about your toddler becoming iron deficient if he doesn’t like to eat meat.
But eating too many calcium-rich foods can also cause an iron deficiency. For example, toddlers that love milk and drink a lot of it might be at risk of iron deficiency. This is especially true when kids eat and drink calcium and iron-containing foods at the same time.
To improve iron absorption in toddlers offer a vitamin C containing food or drink.
Kids are growing, and they need calcium and vitamin D for strong bones.
Most foods don’t contain this key nutrient. Vitamin D is actually a hormone. And exposure to the sun helps convert vitamin D in the body to the active form the body can use.
Kids who grow up in the northern hemisphere or don’t get enough outdoor playtime have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Fluoride helps prevent cavities, but it’s dangerous in high doses for children. Some areas of the country have fluoridated water. So toddlers that live in those areas may not need a multivitamin with fluoride.
Pediatricians may prescribe vitamins with fluoride for children over 6 months old depending on where you live.
Are Multivitamins Safe for Toddlers?
Vitamins and minerals are necessary for healthy growth and development, but too much of some nutrients can be dangerous.
The FDA classifies vitamins as dietary supplements, which are regulated as food, not as a drug. Kids have small bodies and large doses of vitamins can do harm. One study found that children’s vitamin labels aren’t always accurate. The actual quantity of some vitamins in the children’s vitamins that were tested was higher than the quantity on the label.
Multivitamins are formulated for specific groups of people depending on their needs. For example, women’s vitamins contain iron, prenatal vitamins contain extra folic acid and toddler vitamins have lower doses of all vitamins.
Toddlers must be given multivitamins made for just for them.
Vitamins A, D, E and K are called fat-soluble vitamins, which can build up in the body and be toxic in large doses, especially for small children.
Eating foods containing these nutrients is safe for kids. Vitamins from food are less concentrated unlike supplements, which are a concentrated form of nutrients and can be toxic in large doses.
Combining a multivitamin with a healthy diet is safe in most cases. But, a supplement may be unnecessary if a child meets the recommended daily requirements from his diet.
Send Me The Do’s & Dont’s of Picky Eating!
Final Thoughts on Kids Vitamins
As a childhood nutrition expert, I believe the best way for children to get key nutrients for healthy development is from a nutritious diet.
For various reasons, including access to food or a child’s refusal to eat various foods, a diet full of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lean meats isn’t always possible. It’s critical to treat and prevent vitamin deficiencies in young children.
Toddler multivitamins come in liquid and chewable forms. You can find them over-the-counter or by prescription. Before offering multivitamins or individual vitamin supplements to toddlers, check with a pediatrician for your child’s specific needs.Kids vitamins won’t provide energy (calories) for an underweight child, but they can ensure your child gets enough nutrients to prevent vitamin deficiencies.