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3. B12 and Other B Vitamins

The B vitamins are important for metabolism, energy, and a healthy heart and nervous system. One of the most important B vitamins is B12.

Who Needs It and How Much:

Recommended intake is measured in micrograms: 

  • Babies: about 0.5 micrograms daily.
  • Toddlers: 0.9 micrograms daily.
  • Ages 4-8: 1.2 micrograms daily.
  • Ages 9-13: 1.8 micrograms daily. 
  • Teens: 2.4 micrograms daily (2.6 micrograms for pregnant teens)

Foods That Have It:

Vitamin B12 comes mainly from animal-based foods, like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Most kids usually get enough B12 in a regular diet, but vegetarian/vegan kids may not, says Debi Silber, MS, RD, a dietitian in Dix Hills, N.Y. Look for fortified foods that are high in B12. Check food labels for the content of cyanocobalamin, the active form of vitamin B12.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D works with calcium to build strong bones. It may also help protect against chronic disease later in life.

Who Needs It and How Much:

Babies and children should get at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfed babies need vitamin D supplement drops until they are weaned and are getting at least 32 ounces of  vitamin D fortified infant formula or milk.

Foods That Have It:

Some fish, including salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are excellent sources of vitamin D, as are eggs (D is found in the yolk) and fortified milk. Vegetarian and vegan families should look for fortified cereals high in D. Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin D supplements for all kids, unless they're getting 400 IU from their diet.

5. Vitamin E

Vitamin E strengthens the body's immune system. It also helps keep blood vessels clear and flowing well.

Who Needs It and How Much:

  • Ages 1-3 need 9 IU of vitamin E daily.
  • Ages 4-8 need 10.4 IU daily.
  • Ages 9-13 need 16.4 IU daily.
  • Teens need as much as adults: 22 IU daily.

Foods That Have It:

Vegetable oils such as sunflower and safflower oils, as well as nuts and seeds including almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, are excellent vitamin E sources.