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Do children need a multivitamin?

Child multivitamins

Many parents try to make sure their child is eating a healthy diet, but sometimes that isn’t the case.

Most young children like to eat processed or convenience foods and aren’t big fans of green vegetables.

So how can you help ensure your child is getting all the vitamins and minerals they need?

One source parents can turn to for help can be multivitamins. But how do you know if your child really needs them?

Racquel Sanchez, MD, a pediatrician with Ascension Medical Group Via Christi on Carriage Parkway, says that the ideal way of making sure a child is getting the nutrients they need is through a balanced diet, but she knows that isn’t always possible.

Who needs them?

“Most children don’t really need a multivitamin, but some children are picky eaters, have poor eating habits and won’t eat the five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day that they need for healthy growth,” Dr. Sanchez says. “For those children, parents might try a multivitamin.”

There are some special cases where a multivitamin is actually recommended for young children:

  • If the child eats a vegetarian or a vegan diet; the child might need extra vitamins such as B12 and Vitamin C, and calcium.
  • In breastfed infants; vitamin D is low in breast milk so an infant may need a supplement.

Which one to choose?

As there are so many types of vitamins to choose from, Dr. Sanchez says her best advice is to make sure all the necessary nutrients are contained in the multivitamin.

“Most gummy vitamins do not contain iron,” she says. “So if your child is having difficulty with eating iron rich foods, I would recommend parents try the pill form of multivitamins, which typically do contain iron.”

A warning

Dr. Sanchez says it’s also important for parents to teach children that vitamins aren’t candy, despite their taste and appearance. Ingesting too many can lead to overdose of the vitamins and minerals, which can be life threatening especially with iron. Make sure to keep them up and out of reach so children can’t get to them. Explain to the child that the vitamins are medication and need to be treated as such.