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Should You Give Your Kids a Vitamin?

Updated on March 24, 2011

Should you give your children vitamins? When you think about many children do not get the recommended vitamins and minerals that they should. Many kid's diets are seriously lacking in nutrients, filled with empty calories, and are not varied enough for them to get what their bodies need from just foods alone.

Many people can't afford a varied diet and many families chose to use lots of prepackaged convenience foods instead of cooking from scratch. While the prepackaged foods are often fortified, the vitamins a person receives from these foods are still not the same as what they could receive from fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In this instance, giving your child a daily vitamin could certainly help.

Many kids are picky eaters and although the parents might serve healthy foods, getting them to eat it is another matter. I have four kids, so I totally understand this. When my daughter was one she ate nothing but mandarin oranges and hotdogs for four months. Making sure she had a daily vitamin really eased my worries about her diet. The same thing applies now for us and many other people. I don't want to obsess over whether my child had enough Vitamin E today or enough calcium another day. I try to feed them healthy, but sometimes that doesn't work. Vitamins are like a good back up to making sure their little bodies get what they need to work properly.

I don't have the time or the mental energy to devote to figuring out exactly which foods need to be eaten with each other to optimize the body's absorption of vitamins and minerals. Way too many combinations and information for me to try to figure out. So again a daily vitamin makes sense.

Some people don't like giving their children vitamins though. In fact, I had to recently rethink my whole vitamin mentality when I discovered the vitamins I was giving my kids were loaded with artificial colors, and of course preservatives as well. We are trying to avoid those things and I finally came to terms with not giving my kids vitamins. I was trying to be more vigilant about their diets, but again picky eaters and all, it wasn't going too well.

Depending on the vitamin, some of them will not be absorbed by your body. I read somewhere that you should put a vitamin in a glass of water and if it isn't absorbed completely in 24 hours then your body won't absorb it either. That was an interesting test I tried on the vitamins I had been using. I quit using those vitamins. So realistically some vitamins aren't going to do us much good and in the case of artificial coloring and my kids, was actually doing harm.

I analyzed the different vitamins at the store and found some that have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Now I feel much better about giving my children their vitamins.

I decided I still wanted to give my kids vitamins, but I am not a stickler for every single day. Basically when I remember or when they have had a particularly bad day of eating. I do think it is a personal decision. Ideally a child will get everything their bodies need from the foods they eat, but realistically that rarely happens. Giving them a daily vitamin will probably help them and for the most part not hurt them, so why not?


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Most doctor's recommend adult take a good multi-vitamin to ensure any against any deficiencies in one's diet. So children should take a multi-vitamin for the same reason.

      You do not have to worry about going over the "percent daily value" that is on the label of cereal boxes or other food packaging. One doctor wrote that long time ago, this value is the "minimum daily value". But some marketer says that didn't sound very good and it changed to "percent daily value" or "recommended daily value". To be sure, it is NOT toxic even if you are eating many times more than this "percent daily value". If your body has enough vitamin C, it will release the un-needed in urine. Have you seen the label on the over-the-counter dietary supplement Airborne? It has a "daily value of" 1,667% of vitamin C -- which amounts to 1000mg of vitamin C. Yes, that is more than 16 times the so-called "daily value" (at 60 mg). And the instructions say take every 3 to 4 hours, but no more than 3 times a day. So clearly, your body can take many times more than this so-call "daily value". Although this amount which comes to 1000 mg of vitamin C is considered to be on the upper range for daily use, it is NOT toxic even at this level.

      By the way, the "daily value" is based on a 2,000-calorie diet for adult. Children have a lower calorie diet.

    • brucifer07 profile image


      9 years ago from chicago, il

      Another thing to consider is the fact that the more of a vitamin or mineral they consume, the less they will absorb. So, if they receive 200% vitamin c a day, they won't die, but when they stop taking those vitamins, their body will have to adjust back to the amount of vitamin c they receive from their meals. The healthiest way to get all the vitamins that a child needs is for them to eat a moderate diet - a little bit of everything.

    • profile image


      9 years ago from maryland

      i don't think you should give your kids vitamins.But, you should give it only if the child is not getting alot in there meals.

    • Clara Ghomes profile image

      Clara Ghomes 

      9 years ago

      I am agree with that we should give our child a vitamin. But a child should be given in appropriate. If someone think his/her child is in need of vitamin, let him/her give it. That's a good idea.

    • profile image

      sinead norton 

      9 years ago

      I have children who are all picky eaters in different ways and until they are about 6 years old, they do not have a varied diet. Some people think that it is the parent't fault for being too lenient or having a bad diet themselves. This may be true for some people. I have 6 kids aged between 1 1/2 and 14. They are all picky in different ways because we all like different things and we try to give them a varied diet. The older kids (9,11,13) know now that they have to try it and while I will not make them eat something they really hate, they know to eat what is put down in front of them and not be so picky anymore. Some days they will get what they love and some days they won't.

      it is not so easy for the younger ones aged 2 and twins 1 1/2. They won't try some things and some days only eat cereal toast and yoghurts and drink milk. I try to make them eat little and often rather than overwhelm them. Eventually they grow out of it.

      None of my kids looked malnourished but I have noticed that they are cranky the day after they didn't eat so much. I have tried giving vitamins but am not consistent anyway. It is when they are older (like my 9 year old who regularily has the cold) I would be more concerned.

      To give credit to Jennifer I would just buy the popular brand and give it to them, without much thought. At least you have been considerate enough to test them and to weigh up the pros and cons. I sometimes take vitamins myself, but not consistently and only multivitamins. Now I wonder if they have been doing any good.

      I did read somewhere that the pharmacy companies make a fortune out of selling them and some weren't beneficial. this article has made me think!

    • Hally Z. profile image

      Hally Z. 

      9 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I think I'd still rather just feed kids whole foods that are packed with vitamins anyway. Synthetic vitamins do not get absorbed like natural ones, and there are so many cofactors and other good things in raw, whole food that you simply cannot replace it all with a vitamin pill. I don't take vitamins, my ex-hubby does, yet when we once got tested for who had more vitamins and minerals in their system, I won out. Still, kids are much pickier eaters than adults, so it may be best to give them at least the basics, like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A. Good article!

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jennifer, I'm confused by this, too. Why would a single jar of carrots contain over 100% of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin A? Isn't the child going to get vitamin A in other foods, too? Is there a daily minimum recommended and also a daily maximum?

      The reason I think it's probably safer in the case of unprocessed foods is that a child of a certain size and weight is only going to eat so many carrots and then she'll be full. But they can pack so much more into a vitamin pill than we need, and it's not being offset by other things that help you get the excess out of your system, like fiber and water.

    • Jennifer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      But think about the foods they eat. If my daughter sat down and ate a bunch of carrots, then she will probably be getting way more Vitamin A than she really needed. Does that harm her? Look at baby food. A jar of carrots says on the label that it contains over 100% of the daily recommended dose for Vitamin A. How is giving them a vitamin on top of their regular diets overdosing them? I do know that they shouldn't have more than one a day though.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Jennifer, I appreciate that we can't always get our kids to eat healthy. However, almost anything that has the capacity to help us also has the capacity to hurt us. It's all in the dosage. So be careful not to overdose them, even on recommended vitamins. Remember, if their cereal is fortified with 100% of something they need, then giving them more than 100% can be toxic.


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