Skip to content

Children and teens have different nutritional needs from adults. Do your meals meet their needs?

The most important vitamins and minerals that your kids needs are:

1. Calcium

"Calcium is the essential building block of bones and teeth," says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The more bone your child builds now, the more reserves she'll have when bone loss begins in later years.

Who Needs It and How Much:

  • Ages 1-3: 700 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily.
  • Ages 4-8: 1,000 mg daily.
  • Ages 9-18: 1,300 mg daily.

Foods That Have It: Dairy products, fortified foods, salmon, and dark green leafy vegetables such as kale.

2. Fiber

Fiber isn't a vitamin or mineral, but foods that are high in fiber also tend to be packed with many important nutrients, like vitamin E, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Who Needs It and How Much:

Fiber recommendations are based on how many calories you take in: about 14 grams for every 1,000 calories.  

Although kids are much smaller than adults, their bodies also need just about as much fiber as grown-ups in order to maintain a healthy digestive system, Giancoli says. "A 4-8-year-old, who may be eating about 1,500 calories a day, needs 25 grams of fiber a day, and that's about what I eat.”  So toddlers, who generally eat a bit less than older kids, probably need around 18 grams of fiber a day.

Food Sources:

Foods high in fiber include berries, broccoli, avocados, and oatmeal. Another excellent source of fiber is almost any kind of bean, such as navy, pinto, red, or kidney beans, or chickpeas. Beans are also high in protein and nutrients like vitamin A and potassium, making them a great food for vegetarian and vegan families.