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Vitamins for Kids: Do Healthy Kids Need Supplements?

Look to Fresh Foods for the Best Vitamins

Healthy kids get their best start from what you put in your grocery cart.

Good nutrition starts by serving a wide variety of whole, fresh foods as much as possible. That's far better than serving up fast foods or convenience foods -- and hoping that taking a kids' vitamin will undo any nutritional no-no's. You'll find the most vitamins and minerals in foods high in carbohydrates and proteins (rather than fats). By far, the most high-vitamin foods of all are fresh fruits and vegetables.

To give kids more vitamins, aim for more variety -- not simply more food. Twice as many kids today are overweight than just two decades ago, so use kid-sized food portions, which are one-quarter to one-third the size of adult portions.

Spread the variety of foods into several small meals and snacks throughout the day. If your child won't eat a particular food for a few days -- like vegetables -- don't fret. But reintroduce those foods again a day or two later, perhaps prepared in a different way. Kids' "food strikes" usually end by themselves.

Vitamins and Healthy Kids: Five Tips

If you do give vitamins to your kids, follow these tips:

  1. Put vitamins away, well out of reach of children, so your child doesn't treat them like candy.
  2. Try not to battle over foods with your kids or use desserts as a bribe to "clean your plate." Instead, try giving a chewable vitamin as a "treat" at the end of a meal. Fat-soluble vitamins can only be absorbed with food.
  3. If your child is taking any medication, be sure to ask your child's doctor about any drug interactions with certain vitamins or minerals. Then the supplement won't boost or lower the medication dose.
  4. Try a chewable vitamin if your child won't take a pill or liquid supplement.
  5. Consider waiting until a child is 4 years old to start giving a multivitamin supplement unless your child's doctor suggests otherwise.

Sound nutrition plays a role in your child's learning and development. So rather than relying on cartoon characters selling supplements, commit to feeding a range of healthy foods to your kids if at all possible.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on May 22, 2012

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