It probably won’t surprise you that experts disagree on whether or not children should take vitamins. On one side of the debate are medical experts who believe that children obtain a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals from their diet. On the flip side are medical professionals who view the need for vitamin supplementation for adults to be the same for children. Experts with this belief recognize that children, like adults, don’t always consume the foods they need to obtain sufficient nutrients.
For example, children commonly have an aversion to vegetables, such as broccoli. Children may also have health conditions that prevent them from consuming a particular food. In these cases, children may not obtain sufficient amounts of nutrients. This concern is significant for children because the nutrients are imperative to their growth.
One element that is significant to a child’s growth is fluoride. Fluoride contributes to healthy teeth and bones. Most children obtain all the fluoride they need from drinking water. However, the growing popularity of bottled water places many children at risk of fluoride deficiency. There are also many communities that use non-fluoridated drinking water. Children older than six months who are affected by these situations are good candidates for fluoride supplementation. Parents should inform their medical doctor of these circumstances so that the physician can possibly recommend fluoride vitamins for the child.
Similar to fluoride, calcium is another mineral that children need for strong teeth and bones. Children rarely have a calcium deficiency. There are, however, a small percentage of children who do not obtain the recommended amount of calcium for their age group (from 800-1399 milligrams). These children either have an allergy or consuming dairy products or are vegetarians who do not consume dairy products.
Deciding to supplement a child’s diet with vitamins is not a decision that parents should make alone. While an excess of most vitamins in adults may cause mild side effects, children may experience more severe side effects. In addition, vitamins for children often look like candy and should be stored in a location out of the reach of children to prevent overdose.