Should kids take a daily vitamin supplement?
Many adults take a daily vitamin. Do kids need one as well?
Dr. Jennifer Kusma, Advanced General Pediatrics and Primary Care physician at Lurie Children's Hospital, shares that while kids need vitamins, most of their vitamin needs are met through the healthy food they eat -- with one exception.
"It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that all infants receive vitamin D supplementation," Kusma said. "That supplementation is also recommended for children. It's hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone, especially this year with less time spent outside. Additionally, when we are outside, we are doing a better job of wearing sunscreen to help prevent skin cancer, which means we absorb less vitamin D naturally."
Taking vitamin D helps children have strong bones and vitamin D and calcium work together to achieve that. Children tend to get enough calcium from the food they eat such as milk, cheese and yogurt. There are also many foods that have calcium added, such as juice and cereal.
"The vitamin D is the other half of the team and is harder to get through food alone," Kusma said. Foods that contain vitamin D are often foods that kids don't eat enough of, including fatty fish like tuna and salmon.
The amount of vitamin D supplementation varies by infant and child. "The recommended amount of vitamin D for infants is 400 international units (IU) per day and for children age 1 year and older 600 IU," Kusma said.
There are several liquid vitamin D supplements available for infants. It's suggested that breastfed infants remain on vitamin D while infants who are formula fed continue to receive the supplement until they eat 32 ounces of formula per day.
"For older children, a multivitamin is sometimes easier to find in a form that a child will take. In that case, make sure it has the recommended amount of vitamin D," Kusma advises.
Kusma also warns to be sure to take the correct dosage. "If we have too much of certain vitamins, that can in fact cause problems rather than do good. Large amounts of vitamins like vitamin A, C or D can produce toxic symptoms. Like all medications, be sure to keep vitamins out of reach from children and infants."
If you have specific concerns about your child's nutritional needs, reach out to your pediatrician or primary health care provider. The Division of Advanced General Pediatrics and Primary Care at Lurie Children's offers primary care medicine and a broad range of pediatric specialties related to a child's environment and general well-being. We provide top-quality care using a collaborative approach and innovative medical technology. Our experienced, multidisciplinary team includes board-certified attending physicians in General Pediatrics as well as specialized experts that focus on nutrition evaluation, lead assessment, and care of patients with neurofibromatosis.
• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. For more information, visit www.LurieChildrens.org.