If you are a parent, you may be thinking: do I need to get extra vitamins supplementation for my kids? Although kids may be able to obtain their required vitamins and minerals from a healthy and balanced diet, multivitamin supplements may be considered for certain kids. For example, if your kid is a picky eater, or have chronic conditions such as asthma or gastric conditions that may affect the absorption of certain vitamins.
Read on more to find out how the different types of vitamins are crucial for the growth and development of your child.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is best known for its function in developing the child’s vision. Other functions of vitamin A include promoting normal growth and development, as well as immune system functions. There are 2 different types of vitamin A: (1) pre-formed vitamin A which is found in meat and fish, and (2) provitamin A which is found in plant-based products. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin A depends on the age of the child:
- 0-6 months: 400mcg retinol activity equivalent (RAE)
- 7-12 months: 500mcg RAE
- 1-3 years: 300mcg RAE
- 4-8 years: 400mcg RAE
- 9-13 years: 600mcg RAE
- 14-18 years: 700-900mcg RAE
Vitamin B class consists of a total of 8 sub-groups of vitamin B:
- B1: Thiamine
- B2: Riboflavin
- B3: Niacin
- B5: Pantothenic acid
- B6: Pyridoxine
- B7: Biotin
- B9: Folate / Folic acid
- B12: Cobalamin
B9: Folate / Folic acid
Vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, is important for the formation of DNA as well as cell growth, which are contributors to the healthy development of a child. It is often found in dark leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, and seafood. The RDA for folate is dependent on the child’s age, ranging from 65mcg DFE (dietary folate equivalent) from birth and increasing to 400mcg DFE for an 18-year-old teenager.
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, exists in multiple forms: biologically active forms include methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin, while hydroxycobalamin and cyanocobalamin are precursors of the active forms which gets converted in the body. Vitamin B12 is important for its functions involving red blood cell production, DNA formation and for energy metabolism, all crucial processes for the growth and development of your kid. Dietary sources of cobalamins include shellfish, red meat, and eggs. The RDA for Vitamin B12 depends on the age:
- 0-6 months: 0.4mcg
- 7-12 months: 0.5mcg
- 1-3 years: 0.9mcg
- 4-8 years: 1.2mcg
- 9-13 years: 1.8mcg
- 14-18 years: 2.4mcg
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is known for its effects and roles in boosting the body’s immunity system and wound healing. For more information on vitamin C, follow and click on our article that discussed the multiple functions of vitamin C in greater details.
Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, has been traditionally used for bone health due to its effects on increased calcium absorption. Recently, there are also data suggesting its role in immunity as well. For more information on vitamin D, follow and click on our article that discussed the multiple functions of vitamin D in greater details.
Vitamin E is a group of 8 fat-soluble chemicals that have distinct antioxidant properties. The only chemical that has activity to meet human requirements is the alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that can protect cells from the oxidative stress of free radicals. Vitamin E is also involved in the immune system, as well as the regulation of several metabolic processes. Good sources of vitamin E includes plant oils like sunflower oil and corn oil, and nuts such as almond and peanuts. The RDA for vitamin E depends on the age of the kids:
- 0-6 months: 4mg
- 7-12 months: 5mg
- 1-3 years: 6mg
- 4-8 years: 7mg
- 9-13 years: 11mg
- 14-18 years: 15mg
Magnesium plays multiple roles and functions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle function, energy production, and synthesis of DNA. These functions thus aid in the growth of your child. This mineral is widely available in many foods such as green leafy vegetables and certain nuts and seeds. The RDA for magnesium for kids ranges from 30mg in infants and increases to about 400mg in teenagers.
Iodine and Zinc
Iodine is a mineral found in foods such as seaweed, fish, and some seafood. It is an essential component of the thyroid hormones which are responsible for several metabolic processes in our body, thus contributing to the growth and development of your child. The RDA for iodine depends on the age of the child:
- 0-6 months: 110mcg
- 7-12 months: 130mcg
- 1-8 years: 90mcg
- 9-13 years: 120mcg
- 14-18 years: 150mcg
Zinc is another essential mineral found naturally in certain foods like seafood and meat and is also present in some beans and nuts. Zinc is involved in certain cellular processes such as the immune function, protein synthesis, and cell division, contributing to your child’s development. The RDA for zinc for kids ranges from 2mg in infants and increases to about 10mg in teenagers.
As the world progresses and people’s health knowledge advances, the usage of such multivitamins and supplements will only see an increase in the future, especially for children. It is thus crucial to understand more about these vitamins and minerals present in these supplements and find out about their functions and recommended daily amount to be taken.
- Vitamins for Kids: Do Healthy Kids Need Supplements? 2020 June. Available on: https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/vitamins-for-kids-do-healthy-kids-need-vitamins
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021 March. Available on: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
- Parenting Science. Vitamin A supplements: Is your kid getting too much vitamin A? 2019. Available on: https://parentingscience.com/vitamin-a-supplements/
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source: Vitamin B9. Available on: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/folic-acid/
- Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source: Vitamin B12. Available on: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b12/
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021 March. Available on: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin E: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021 March. Available on: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
- Traber MG. Vitamin E. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006;396-411.
- 20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin E. 2017 May. Available on: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-vitamin-e
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2022 March. Available on: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
- Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements. Iodine: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021 March. Available on: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021 December. Available on: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/