One of the dilemmas that many parents face—when should your kid start taking vitamins?
A simple—yet loaded—question, there are a lot of variables that go into trying to provide you with an accurate answer. Because the truth is, every kid is different. So, the right time for them to start taking a daily vitamin will vary based on a large range of factors and variables that are really individual to your kid.
But we’re here to help you navigate your way through determining when the time is right and what you need to know when it comes to deciding whether your kid is needing to take daily vitamins.
Try to Give Your Kids Vitamins the Natural Way Through Healthy Eating
Seriously. Where possible, your kid should be getting as many vitamins and minerals as possible the natural way. This is accomplished through helping your kid eat a wholesome and balanced diet, which includes the following food groups:
- Protein—such as chicken, fish, meat, and eggs
- Whole Grains—such as steel-cut oats and brown rice
- Dairy—such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Fruits + Vegetables—such as apples, bananas, broccoli and spinach
But we are realistic. According to studies 93% of kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables (and let’s face it -- mainly vegetables!). Many kids refuse to finish their dinner and would rather snack on sugary or processed snacks and are willing to get extremely fussy (even at times causing a scene) around finishing their plate of food.
It is a pain many parents can relate to, so don’t feel bad if your kid is not eating all of the above—you are not alone.
So, what is the actual problem with kids not eating a balanced diet of the foods mentioned above? Is it really worth all the stress and drama to get them to eat such a well-balanced meal every day?
Well, it all comes down to their health, development both mentally and physically and setting them up to live a long and healthy life. One of the biggest problems that arise from kids not getting the right nutrients, is that they aren’t getting the correct vitamins their body desperately needs -- often vitamins and minerals they body doesn’t produce naturally.
Vitamins Kids Need:
Here are the key vitamins that your kid should be getting daily.
- Calcium: Good for the bones and fantastic for long term development, Calcium is one of the most important vitamins for kids! And since the body doesn’t produce calcium naturally, food or vitamins is the only way. If your child isn't getting enough Calcium naturally, consider a Calcium supplement.
- Vitamin A: Equally important for your kid’s brain development is Vitamin A.Helping with giving them healthy vision and a normally functioning immune system, Vitamin A also helps them fight off any eventual risk of acne as a teenager.
- Vitamin B12: Did you know that we as humans can not actually produce Vitamin B12 on our own? It is normally sourced from animal products, so if your kid follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, giving them extra Vitamin B12 is not a bad idea. Vitamin B12 will help improve their memory and boost their energy, along with fighting off any heart disease as they age.
- Vitamin C: Ah, the good ole’ Vitamin C—we can’t ever really get enough of it. Boosting Vitamin C intake is always one of the first solutions to help your kid conquer the common cold as it is one of the most ideal vitamins for strengthening the immune system. Having enough Vitamin C is one of the most ideal nutrition markers for your kid’s overall health and ensures their body will be able to fight off any nasty germs they might encounter.
- Vitamin D: Good for the bones and the brain, Vitamin D has a big role to play when it comes to your kid’s growth and ability to absorb calcium. Unfortunately 40% of kids don’t get enough vitamin d through diet alone
How to Know When Your Kid Should Start Taking Vitamins:
A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you know your kid is not getting their vitamins the natural way, then they should be taking a vitamin supplement for kids. Here are some scenarios to help you determine this:
- Kids with parents who have busy work lives: Parents work really hard to provide for their families. Hats off to you, as this hard work means you are providing a brighter future. And it’s understandable that a busy work life also means that there is less time for you to provide consistent well-rounded home-cooked meals. Sometimes, you must resort to feeding your family quick and easy fast food meals. But not to worry or feel bad—this is when giving your kid a daily vitamin takes away any guilt or stress you feel around ensuring they are properly nourished!
- Kids who are picky eaters: The picky eaters club is big, so know that you are not alone in dealing with the daily struggles of getting your kid to finish the healthy food on their plate. And let’s be honest, kids can be stubborn so it's hard to balance a child's diet. So many are willing to go to bed hungry and not eat enough than eat the food that they don’t like. A great compromise to this situation is to find a time each day to give them their daily vitamin, so even when they refuse to eat what you made them, you can rest assured they have the essential vitamins in their body.
- Kids who have medical conditions: As parents, you want to protect our kids from anything and everything. Sadly, that is not always possible and there are too many kids having to deal with chronic medical conditions that require medication. While a daily vitamin won’t fix their medical condition, it can aid in helping their body get the nutrients they are needing. Just make sure to chat with your pediatrician first to ensure their daily vitamin does not work against their other medication.
- Kids who follow vegetarian or vegan diets: It is not a bad thing that your kid follows a vegetarian or vegan diet. It just means that they might need some extra help getting all the required nutrients that are sometimes only found in animal products. Many people (adults included) who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet end up lacking enough iron or calcium. A daily vitamin for kids who follow these types of diets is a great way to ensure they still get all the nutrients their body needs in a day.
- Kids who are tempted by sugar and soda: One of the toughest parts about being a parent is knowing that you can’t actually control everything your kid eats in a day. Chances are, they will be tempted to drink carbonated sodas or sugary and processed foods. While it is okay for your kid to splurge on these items every once in a while, sugar tends to suck away any of the necessary vitamins and minerals they had already consumed. Giving your kid a daily vitamin (and one without sugar!) will give you peace of mind that these treats won’t have negative effects on their body.
Other Vitamin Tidbits You Should Consider:
While a multivitamin for kids helps counter any of the other factors that would prevent them from being well-nourished, it’s important that vitamins should never be a replacement to fresh foods that have the most high-vitamin dense nutrients.
So, if you do decide it is time to start giving your kid a daily vitamin, just remember:
- give your kids a variety of fresh food throughout the day
- choose a vitamin without sugar, chemicals, and other junk that may cause more problems than it solves.
- replace the bribe of dessert with a bribe of a chewable vitamin or a gummy vitamin as the reward for finishing their plate of food
- make sure that the vitamins you give your kid are safe, naturaland easy to consume
There are a whole range of vitamins for kids—like the ones from Hiya— that are chewable, made with only essential nutrients and safe to consume.
While many studies show that the average age that kids start vitamins is at four years old, each kid is different. Many will need daily vitamins when they are still babies and to be safe, others will should continue taking daily vitamins into adulthood.
Let’s go back to the original question. When should you start giving your kid vitamins? Well, that is really up to you and what you think is best for your kid! Just know there are companies like Hiya Health that produce high-quality vitamins for kids and a team of medical professionals who are always willing to assist you in navigating your way through answering this question.