As a parent, you probably know that vitamins are important for kids. However, when it comes to the different types of vitamins and why they are important, things may start to get a little overwhelming. Before having kids, you were probably pretty content with your level of vitamin knowledge , but having kids changes everything! Now, you may find yourself wanting to know everything about vitamins so you can make sure that your kids are getting everything that they need in order to grow big, strong, and smart! Thankfully, you have tons of resources at your disposal to learn everything that you need to know about vitamins for kids. The first thing you need to know is that the Vitamin B complex is one of the most confusing but also important vitamin groups for children. If you don’t know much about the Vitamin B complex, vitamins in general, or nutrition for kids, we’re here to help!
What Is the Vitamin B Complex?
So you’ve heard of Vitamin B before, but did you know that there’s more than one B Vitamin? That’s right – there are a total of eight different vitamins within the Vitamin B complex! One important thing that you need to know about the Vitamin B complex is that they are water-soluble. This means that they dissolve in water and are not stored on a long-term basis within the body. So, in order to maintain a steady amount of B Vitamins, you have to get them each and every day either through diet or supplements.
Here are the different vitamins included in the Vitamin B complex and their common names:
- Vitamin B1 or thiamine
- Vitamin B2 or riboflavin
- Vitamin B3 or niacin/niacinamide
- Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid
- Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine
- Vitamin B7 or biotin
- Vitamin B9 or folic acid
- Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin/methylcobalamin
Why Is the Vitamin B Complex Important?
While kids don’t necessarily need substantial amounts of each and every vitamin within the B complex, they do need a majority of them! B Vitamins are very important for metabolism, which promotes the healthy development of both the brain and the body. However, different B Vitamins do different things within the body. Here’s a quick breakdown into the specific functions of each B Vitamin:
- Vitamin B1: Thiamine helps promote the growth and strengthening of kids’ nerves and muscles. It also helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy.
- Vitamin B2: Riboflavin promotes the production of healthy red blood cells in the body. It also assists in energy production and digestive system function.
- Vitamin B3: Niacin helps the body convert fats and carbohydrates into energy that the body can use. It also assists in the function of the digestive and nervous systems as well as in the maintenance of healthy hair and skin.
- Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid is used in the metabolization of fats and carbohydrates. It also helps the body make red blood cells and adrenal hormones that regulate metabolism, immune system, and blood pressure.
- Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine promotes healthy brain development in kids. It’s also connected to chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine, which help regulate mood, normal body function, and stress responses.
- Vitamin B7: Biotin promotes the growth of healthy hair, nails, and skin. It’s also essential in the metabolic process of cholesterol, amino acids, and fatty acids.
- Vitamin B9: Folic acid helps healthy red blood cells form as well as contributes to proper DNA production.
- Vitamin B12: Cyanocobalamin is involved in the formation of red blood cells, and also promotes a healthy nervous system.
What Are Sources of Vitamin B?
With so many different B Vitamins and unique functions, it might seem impossible to get all of this down. The good news is that the Vitamin B complex is found in a lot of foods that your child probably already eats! However, it’s still a good idea to go over some of the different food sources for Vitamin B so that you know what to buy at the grocery store:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Red meat and poultry
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Fruits, especially banana, grapefruit, and watermelon
As you can see, the Vitamin B complex is found in a wide variety of different foods. The bad news is that for parents of picky eaters, getting kids enough Vitamin B through food sources alone might seem like an impossible challenge. Many food items that include Vitamin B are things that kids are prone to turn down, like vegetables, whole grains, red meat, and fish. So what is a parent supposed to do? One thing you can do is to get creative with your cooking in order to offer these foods in a more “fun” and kid-friendly form. There are many recipes that effectively disguise things like vegetables and other healthy options into yummy meals that your kid will actually want to eat without throwing a fit. However, not all parents have a ton of extra time that they can spend in the kitchen with everything else going on like work, school, homework, chores, and after-school activities. Adding creative meal prep to this ever-growing list isn’t always realistic or possible. In these cases, it might be worthwhile to consider other methods of increasing your kid's B complex, such as through supplements or children’s vitamins.
How Much Vitamin B Do Kids Need?
So, we now know that all kids need the various different B Vitamins – but exactly how much do they need? The recommended daily levels of the B-complex vitamins depend on your child’s age. There is one set of recommended levels from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if your child is under the age of four, and there is a second set of recommended levels if they are four and up. Starting out with our little ones under the age of four, here are the different levels of Vitamin B that they should be getting each and every day according to the FDA:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 0.5-0.7 mg
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 0.6-0.8 mg
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 8-9 mg
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 3-5 mg
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 0.1-0.5 mg
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): 50-150 mcg
- Vitamin B9 (folate): 100-200 mcg
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin/methylcobalamin): 2-3 mcg
Now for our older kids ages four and above:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 1.5 mg
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 1.7 mg
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 20 mg
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10 mg
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 2 mg
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): 300 mcg
- Vitamin B9 (folate): 400 mcg
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin/methylcobalamin): 6 mcg
As we can see, no matter how old your kid is, they need Vitamin B in their growing bodies! Seeing that the amounts of each type do vary quite a bit, perhaps the easiest way to make sure that your kid is getting all of the different vitamins and minerals they need is through a dietary supplement.
Can You Supplement Vitamin B?
While many kids will be able to obtain enough Vitamin B through their diet alone, some children with dietary restrictions or allergies might not be able to get sufficient Vitamin B without supplements. It’s important to make sure that your child is getting enough Vitamin B in order to avoid Vitamin B deficiency. If you are worried that your child isn’t getting enough Vitamin B, here are some symptoms of health problems that can come from Vitamin B deficiency:
- Slower than normal growth and development
- Skin rashes
The best way to supplement Vitamin B for kids is through a multivitamin supplement. Kids need so many different vitamins and minerals to help them grow up to be big and strong, that it can be hard to keep track of all of these different components to give you peace of mind as a parent. However, a quality multivitamin will contain enough levels of each thing that your child needs, as determined by experts like healthcare professionals and scientists. That way, you can rest easy knowing that all of your kid’s nutritional needs are being met!
At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that not all children’s multivitamin supplements are created equal. Some of them claim to be a “complete multivitamin,” yet they are actually missing key nutrients that children need. Others may have these components, but they might not be in the best form for absorption into kids’ bodies. Additionally, others might have undesirable added ingredients like sugars, preservatives, fillers, and chemicals, especially within gummies. After all, you’re giving them the vitamin to make them healthier, so it’s best to look out for a healthy, organic, natural vitamin made with whole foods, fruits, veggies, and brown rice. That’s why it’s so important to do some research ahead of time in order to find a high-quality kid’s vitamin supplement that has been created and backed by scientists and pediatricians who really know their stuff. Companies like Hiya have conducted extensive research and vetting into their products to ensure that they can offer a full chewable multivitamin that has everything that kids need and nothing that they don’t. With a little bit of time and effort on your end, you will be able to find a product that you can feel confident giving to your kids and that your kids actually enjoy taking!
*The FDA plays a specific role in regulating nutraceuticals and for all companies requires the following disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.