Parents do everything they can to keep their kids healthy. In addition to enforcing good hand washing habits, sleep schedules, and exercise, sufficient Vitamin C intake is another key element to helping your child stay healthy. As an adult, you probably know a little bit about Vitamin C, but you might not know exactly what it is, why it’s important, and exactly how much your kids might need. The good news is that you don’t have to be a doctor to learn how Vitamin C can promote good health for your child! With a little bit of research, knowledge, and assistance from things like supplements, you are able to easily ensure that your child has enough Vitamin C to stay healthy.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that our bodies need in order to function. However, because it is water-soluble, the human body is unable to produce or store it, which means that we need to obtain regular levels of this important vitamin on a daily basis from outside sources. In theory, Vitamin C is found in enough food sources that kids could get sufficient levels of it through diet alone. However, studies have shown that supplementing Vitamin C can have real benefits when it comes to the immune system and overall health, both in childhood development and well into the future.
Why Is Vitamin C Important?
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that provides a whole host of benefits to your body. Perhaps the thing that Vitamin C is most well-known for is its connection to the immune system. In a time when a strong immune system is more important than ever due to Coronavirus concerns, it’s vitally important to understand the relationship between Vitamin C and your kid’s body. Vitamin C helps the body to produce the white blood cells that are essential to a proper immune response. These white blood cells, called lymphocytes and phagocytes, help to identify “foreign” material in the body that could be potentially harmful, and destroying it as appropriate. Since Vitamin C is an antioxidant, it helps protect these cells from harmful free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress. When the body is in oxidative stress, it can become inflamed and may be more susceptible to things like diabetes, asthma, and inflammatory disorders. So, not only does Vitamin C help the body produce white blood cells, it helps protect them too so that they can continue to do their job effectively!
The benefits of Vitamin C also extend to your skin. The skin is actually a very important component in the immune system because it acts as a barrier between your body and the harmful germs trying to enter it from the outside. When you have weak skin or breaks in the skin from things like cuts or scrapes, these potentially harmful invaders are able to easily penetrate your skin, and have a chance to enter into your bloodstream. By ensuring that the skin is healthy thanks to Vitamin C's wound healing properties, you can prevent these germs from entering into the body in the first place.
Vitamin C can also help prevent iron deficiency and aid in the body’s absorption of iron. About 9% of toddlers in the United States are iron-deficient. Iron deficiency can lead to things like anemia, which is found in 3% of toddlers. Iron is a vital nutrient as it is needed for the production of red blood cells that transport oxygen all throughout the body. Kids who don’t eat meat, were born prematurely, orare overweight are particularly at risk for iron deficiency, although it can happen to any kid that isn’t getting enough iron from diet or supplements. If you are concerned that your child might be experiencing iron deficiency, here are some signs to look out for:
- Slowed growth and development
- Pale skin
- Low appetite
- Fast-paced breathing
- Cold hands and feet
- Continual infections
Iron deficiency can be diagnosed through a blood test given by your child’s pediatrician. Make sure to speak with them if you are concerned about your child’s iron levels so that this deficiency can be addressed appropriately.
Even though your child is young now, parents always want to make sure that they are giving their child everything that they need in order to live long and healthy lives. Vitamin C can actually help you avoid certain illnesses and problems as you age--this is why it’s always a good idea to encourage good habits and health practices with your child when they are young so that they are more likely to continue them when they get older. Deficient Vitamin C levels have been connected to a variety of issues including problems with thinking and memory, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Overall, Vitamin C is involved in processes all over the body that not only keep your child healthy in the short-term but can also help promote their long-term health as well.
What Are the Best Sources of Vitamin C?
Perhaps one of the best things about Vitamin C is that it is naturally found in all sorts of yummy foods! Citrus fruits are a very popular source of Vitamin C, but what are some other sources?
- Guavas with 228 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
- Kiwis with 93 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
- Bell peppers with 128 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
- Strawberries with 59 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
- Papayas with 61 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
- Broccoli with 89 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
- Tomatoes with 23 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
- Grapefruits with 31 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams
How Much Vitamin C Do Kids Need?
Another great thing about Vitamin C is that it’s generally safe even at higher levels with little risk of overdose. That being said, there are still recommended dietary allowances for Vitamin C depending on your child’s age:
- For children ages 1-3, they need about 15 mg of Vitamin C per day
- For children ages 3-8, they need about 25 mg of Vitamin C per day
- For children ages 8-13, they need about 45 mg of Vitamin C per day
- For teenagers ages 14-18, they need about 75 mg of Vitamin C per day if they are male and 65 mg of Vitamin C per day if they are female
A popular claim about Vitamin C is related to the common cold: many people believe that consuming higher levels of Vitamin C can help prevent the common cold. Perhaps you always run to eat an orange whenever you feel a little tickle in your throat. However, after numerous studies on this subject, it’s been shown that taking a Vitamin C supplement does not prevent you from getting the common cold. If anything, it may lead to a shorter illness duration or milder symptoms, but this does not apply if you start increasing Vitamin C consumption after you already have a cold.
It’s important to ensure that your child is getting enough Vitamin C to avoid Vitamin C deficiency, known as scurvy. While scurvy is rare in children in the United States, it can occur if your child is unable to properly absorb Vitamin C. Some of the key symptoms of scurvy include bleeding gums, brown spots on the skin, muscle weakness and discomfort, and jaundice. All of this may seem scary, but there are plenty of ways to avoid this, including supplementing Vitamin C.
Can You Supplement Vitamin C?
While it is definitely possible for your child to get enough Vitamin C from food sources alone, kids are notoriously picky eaters, so it might be a little bit challenging to ensure that they are getting sufficient levels of Vitamin C each and every day. In these situations, it may be worthwhile for you to consider a dietary supplement for your child.
When it comes to supplementing Vitamin C for kids, the best way to do this is through a children’s multivitamin. Kids need more than just Vitamin C in order to grow and develop properly. In fact, they need upwards of 15 different vitamins and minerals on a daily basis to promote everything from eye health to better sleep. If this is all news to you, don’t worry--it’s not too late for you to introduce a kids’ multivitamin supplement that will ensure that your child gets everything they need.
Trying to find the right multivitamin supplement for your kid might seem like an impossible task. Many vitamins claim to be healthy but instead include things like chemicals, fillers, and sugars that counteract the health benefits of the vitamin itself! To find a vitamin that is actually beneficial, look for one that is sugar-free, made from organic fruits and vegetables, and backed by the experts. Companies like Hiya have committed themselves to developing a quality children’s multivitamin by working with scientists and pediatricians. Contrary to their popularity, the best vitamins for kids aren’t gummies that include sugar, chemicals, and fillers, but instead are naturally-sweetened chewable vitamins that are healthy and tasty at the same time!