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Why Your Pre-Schooler May Need a Vitamin Supplement

Why Your Pre-Schooler May Need a Vitamin Supplement

If your preschooler is like most, she's more interested in eating pizza and ice cream than carrots and spinach. How do you know if she's getting enough nutrients from food, or whether you should consider vitamin supplements?

A Good Idea or a Waste of Money?

Circle of Moms member Nikki S. posed this question when her daughter began preschool and started getting more frequent colds. She wonders, as do many parents, if vitamins would help boost her immune system.

Kelly's son began taking vitamins when he was three because, although his diet is healthy and varied, he often goes on food "strikes," and she figures that the vitamins will help fill in any gaps. 

And Theresa A. is concerned about whether her child gets enough vitamin D during the winter months, as most of us get it primarily though exposure to sunshine.*  

Experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that supplements can be beneficial for preschoolers under certain circumstances. If your child does is very picky about food and doesn't gravitate toward healthy choices, a supplement can cover her bases. The major vitamins and minerals to consider are A, all the B's, C, D and iron. Vitamin D's importance has recently been upgraded because of its role in the absorption of calcium, which is important for growing bones, as well as in the formation of teeth. And iron is essential during periods of growth, as it produces blood and builds muscles.

But don't expect vitamins to prevent your child from getting colds. As your preschooler's immune system develops, she'll get colds as a way of building immunity to future viruses. It's just par for the course. But many moms, including Mel H., swear by Vitamin C as a cold preventive, and because it can shorten the duration and lessen the severity of a cold.

If your child eats a varied diet — not necessarily every day, but over the course of each week — and gets enough vitamin D from sun exposure and milk, then a supplement might be overkill. That said, many vitamins are water-soluble, and anything that's not needed by your child's body is urinated out daily. So while unnecessary, taking a multivitamin can be a good hedge, and it's one that's unlikely to harm your child.

What are the Dangers?

Not all vitamins and minerals are water soluble and easily expelled by the body however. The fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D and K) and iron can be dangerous for your child (or you) in excessive quantities, so pay attention to your child's daily intake. Vitamins that contain iron are now labeled with warnings about the dangers of overdose, as overdoses are a leading cause of poisoning in early childhood. Be sure to choose brands that offer child safety locks, as many, especially chewables, are designed to taste good — which means your child may be tempted to ingest more than he should.

The bottom line? Vitamin and mineral supplements can help balance a picky eater's lopsided diet, and even if her body doesn't need them, they tend to be harmless. Just be sure to check in with your pediatrician, and always keep the bottle out of reach!

Do you give your child a multivitamin or other supplement?

*Vitamin D-fortified milk is also a popular source.

Image Source: Courtesy of clappstar via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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BarbaraFormica BarbaraFormica 5 years
Vitamins are extremely important not just for toddlers but for infants as well. I have always tried to give my kids a good variety of foods. I try to buy organic as much as possible. Try to avoid processed or prepackaged foods to avoid getting artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives into my kids diet. The key here is to shop the perimeter of the store and to avoid the isles in the middle that is where all the “garbage” is. I breastfed my kids but I still started them on vitamin supplements at 6 months. I have to admit my kids do get sick less often than their cousins and friends. They do not have allergies. I have to contribute their fairly good health to what we have been doing. They do still get sick but less often and for a shorter period of time and it has mostly just been a minor cold- no antibiotics required. But here’s the question…what brand do you choose??? Well, I can only give you my personal opinion. I was a very sick child growing up. I would get bronchitis at least 2-3 times a year which turned into Bronchial Asthma. My husband was the same with getting bronchitis as well. Both of us tried many types of supplements like One a Day, Centrum, and even GNC but we never felt any type of difference. About 10 years ago a friend of my husband introduced us to Shaklee. Of course we were skeptical but what did we have to lose. We tried it and I wasn’t expecting anything but to my surprise I felt great! They are an amazing company. The more I learn the more I am amazed. When choosing a supplement, especially for children make sure it is a complete multi vitamin. Look for ones that do not have any artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. Don’t go off of what you see on TV do your own research. Become an educated consumer- check into the company. Do they have clinical studies on their actual product not just the key ingredients? Are the ingredients natural? Have they had any recalls? Look into a company that focuses on safety and quality. Look for an unconditional money back guarantee. I hope this was helpful. Good luck! Barbara Formica
vidhya89560 vidhya89560 5 years
My son used to get a lot of infection ,mainly cold followed by ear and throat infection.I tried many ways to helphim get sick.I admit he is a picky eater.He won't eat any fruit or vegetable.i did a lot of research and found multivitamins for kids is best.I started giving him from 3 years.i am not sure whether it helped or not.
MyraDavis63798 MyraDavis63798 5 years
I haven't read the article because I am at work right now, but I MUST say that I returned to full-time work 4 months ago and at the time my boys were 4 yrs and 22 months respectively. They both got sick almost every second week, and I had to take SO much time off (plus had parents and others taking time off to look after them because I just couldn't take that much time), and then after the 4th or 5th round of antibiotics for my now 2yo I went and got this stuff called Sniffle Juice (a natural remedy which is great for all ages) and was upsold to some Inner Health Immune Boost for kids. I gave it to my kids every morning in some orange juice (along with the sniffle juice which MUST be put into something it is so strong) and they have not had a single day off daycare since! It is expensive, $35 for one bottle of the powder from my chemist, but I've found it online and bought 2 bottles @ $28 each with free shipping so I'm going to keep giving it to my boys every day. Lucky for me they both love fruit of all types so that's good, and 4yo will eat vegies most of the time, 2yo is a bit of a challenge but at least I know he'll ALWAYS eat a pear!
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