Which supplements to give to children

Ask your child's pediatrician if supplements are right for him or her.

There are a lot of questions around whether or not children can or should take supplements. The answers often depend on a particular child's dietary needs and his or her current state of health.

Multivitamins
According to Mayo Clinic consultant Dr. Jay Hoecker, most children who are growing normally don't need multivitamins. Even if your child is a picky eater, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is not getting sufficient nutrients. This is because many foods today are fortified with vitamins and nutrients. So, even if your child's palate hasn't yet evolved to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, it's likely that his or her milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals – among other things – are fortified with nutrients like vitamin D, the B vitamins, iron and calcium.

In fact, multivitamins might offer more minerals and vitamins than your child needs or interact with his or her medications, so it's always best to talk to your child's pediatrician before you give him or her any supplements. In general, children who might need a multivitamin are those who:

  • Have a restrictive diet such as veganism.
  • Have food allergies or an illness that restricts what they can eat.
  • Have failure to thrive – a condition where it is not always certain why an infant or child does not develop or gain weight in line with its peers.

Other supplements
Other supplements that your child might benefit from are immune boosters, which both regulate and balance the intestinal flora and give a lift to an immune system, especially in a time of stress such as around the holidays. One option is Symbiotics Colostrum Plus Chewables for children, which come in three flavors: orange creme, pineapple and cherry. Colostrum's dual action – in the bloodstream and in the GI tract – helps maintain a robust intestinal lining and promotes healthy intestinal flora in a normal GI tract.

If your pediatrician does recommend a supplement for your child for any reason, here are some tips:

  • Supplements are not an excuse to forgo healthy eating.
  • Give the supplement only in recommended doses.
  • Remind your kids that supplements are not candy.

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