Does Your Child Need a Multivitamin?

Many parents think that because their children are picky eaters, they need to supply them with a multivitamin. The jury is still out on whether or not it is important to give children multivitamin supplements. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages and decide for yourself whether it is necessary in your child's diet.


A growing child needs a variety of nutrients and minerals so that their body can continue to develop. However, a child doesn't need a large quantity of vitamins and minerals. How much variety you can introduce into your child's diet will be the key factor in determining multivitamin supplementation.

If your child absolutely refuses to consume entire food groups, you will probably need some help to get all of the necessary nutrients into their system. For instance, if they will not eat anything green, or any dairy, or even any produce, you should probably purchase a vitamin for them.

What types of vitamins are there?

Vitamins and minerals are not produced by your body, even though it needs them to function. A child needs up to 60 mg of vitamin C per day, which our bodies cannot store, so it needs to be supplied on a daily basis through diet. The reason that vitamin C needs to be constantly replenished is because it is a water soluble vitamin, versus a fat soluble vitamin.

Vitamins C and B are water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are stored by fat cells and can remain stored in those cells for a long time. If a person over consumes fat soluble vitamins it can make them sick as they are toxic if consumed in large amounts. Fat and iron soluble vitamins are:{relatedarticles} Vitamin A

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

Vitamin K

Water soluble vitamins are not stored and so need to be replenished daily. There is less worry about over consuming water soluble vitamins because the body will eliminate any excess as waste. For example, an excess of vitamin C is eliminated through the urine.

It is unlikely that you will be over-compensating for your child's needs through a single multivitamin. However, always store vitamins and supplements out of reach and in childproof containers.

Talk to Your Pediatrician First

Always remember to consult with a doctor before starting your child on a nutritional supplement program. Be sure to purchase multivitamins designed for children specifically. You will need to instruct your child that their vitamins are not candy and may only be taken when you give the vitamins to them.


Incidentally, there is a broad selection of candy-flavored vitamins, usually chewable, which should make the process painless. Just remember, vitamins are not a replacement for a balanced and healthy diet or for medication.

Vitamin D

Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant, Jay L. Hoecker M.D., suggests that parents give their children a vitamin D supplement for strong bone and teeth development. He cites the American Academy of Pediatrics' suggestion to make sure that your child is getting 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D if they do not consume 32 ounces of vitamin D fortified milk daily.

This can be found in either a multivitamin or you could purchase it as a separate supplement. Vitamin D is also absorbed through the skin from sunlight. Sun block won't keep it out so hustle your kids outdoors for a little vitamin D time, at least 15 minutes a day. If you live where the weather isn't as hospitable to outside play, then vitamin D fortified milks or a supplement should be a major consideration.



Calcium also aids the body in making strong bones and teeth. Most kids get it from drinking milk. However, if your child is one of the growing number of children with lactose intolerance, or you prefer not to serve dairy products, then a supplement may be in order. Calcium can be obtained from other sources as well, like:






Calcium-fortified juice

Calcium-fortified waffles

Also, milk substitutes are all enriched with calcium. Soy milk, hemp milk, almond milk and rice milk are all adequate substitutions for dairy milk in terms of meeting your child's vitamin D needs. Consult with your doctor before providing a calcium supplement if you feel your child is not consuming enough through their diet.



For babies who are not breast-fed, the American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests 5-10 mg. of iron daily. Iron helps the body create red blood cells, which can often become depleted in small children. Abide by the dosage instructions, though, because iron is fat soluble. This means that the body stores it and over-consumption will result in toxicity from too much in the system.

If Your Child Doesn't Eat...Then Supplement With...

If your child won't eat meat or foods high in iron then give them a daily multivitamin with iron. If your child won't eat dairy or foods high in calcium then give them calcium and vitamin D supplements. If you raise your child vegan or they don't consume many animal products (meat and dairy) then give them vitamin B12 and iron. If your child won't eat many fruits and vegetables then give them a children's daily multivitamin.

You can start your child on an adult multivitamin if they are at least 11 years of age. This is a good option for those kids tired of chewing the "chalky" children's vitamins and who can handle swallowing pills.{relatedarticles} In terms of dispensing vitamins and supplements to children as opposed to adults, there are a few more things to keep in mind:

Dosages will be different;

Vitamins can interact with prescription medications; and

They are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

The same way that you would call your doctor if you decided to undertake a new dietary regimen, you need to do the same thing when incorporating a vitamin and mineral program with your children. In sum, you know how your child eats and can determine whether or not they seem to be deficient in one or more food group. Act wisely and always consult your doctor first.