The overall health and nourishment of a child have always been the number one priority for parents and healthcare providers. Providing a child with a healthy, balanced- meal fuels proper growth and development.
A common question asked by parents is whether they need to give their children vitamins or not. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), if a child is healthy and is given a well-balanced meal, then vitamin supplementation is not necessary. A nutritious diet can already provide the daily vitamin requirements needed by the body.
But, vitamins are needed in specific conditions and scenarios. Here are 10 reasons why you might have to give your kids vitamins.
1. A picky eater
A common reason for needing dietary supplementation in any child is picky eating. This behavior commonly appears in the toddler period, where the appetite slows down and the growth rate declines.
Toddlers start to have their food preferences and often have difficulty adapting to new food choices, and this can affect their overall nutrition and proper diet. Adding some vitamins may help your child, especially during this transition phase.
2. Restricted to a vegan diet
Some parents opt for a vegetarian or vegan diet for their children. Restricted diets limit sources for vitamins. Without meat in the diet, these kids may lack certain nutrients such as vitamin B12, calcium, and iron, putting them at risk for developing certain types of anemia.
For any parent whose child is on a vegan diet, be sure to supplement vitamin B12 and other minerals to meet the needs of your child’s body.
3. Has certain medical conditions
There are specific medical conditions or scenarios that put a child at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies like Celiac disease and other malabsorption syndromes.
4. Erratic eating habits
Certain behaviors can impact a child’s eating habits. School-aged kids also have their own preferences when it comes to choosing their food. For instance, when a child is frequently constipated, he is not eating a fiber-rich diet, like green leafy vegetables or fruits, which are also the main sources of vitamins and minerals.
5. Poor growth and development (Malnutrition)
When a child does not meet the expected gains in weight and height, he or she may be lacking the proper nutritional support. Malnourished kids often show manifestations of nutrient deficiency. A review of their diet would reveal how they lack much of the needed nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the body.
6. Unusual food cravings
Unusual food cravings can be a symptom of nutrient deficiency. If your child is showing manifestations of nutrient deficiency, you may seek consultation with a pediatrician or nutrition specialist. Other symptoms are pallor, fatigue, weakness, and constipation.
7. Help boost the immune system
An acute illness like the flu can already affect your child’s appetite. To help boost your child’s immune system, your doctor may prescribe multivitamins to support your child’s health while recovering from an illness.
8. Vitamin-rich food is not available
In some parts of the world, limited food resources and poor access to health care may lead to children having poor weight gain and stunted growth. Vitamin supplementation may be necessary for these kids especially during rehabilitation.
9. No sun exposure
Vitamin D is important for maintaining bone health. The main source of this vitamin is the sun. Countries with long winter seasons must rely on food sources fortified with vitamin D or vitamin D supplementation to meet the body’s daily requirements.
10. Food Allergy
Food allergy can greatly influence your child’s meal plan. For instance, if your child has an egg allergy, he might miss out on certain nutrients, such as biotin, riboflavin, vitamin A, D, E, K, and B12. Discuss with the doctor how to adjust your child’s daily diet while avoiding certain types of food.
The best way to know if your child really needs vitamin supplementation is to have a regular visit to a pediatrician. Your pediatrician will monitor your child’s growth and development and help you determine if there’s a need to improve your child’s diet or add vitamin supplementation.
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