Vitamins for Toddlers are Not Always Necessary

Parents often wonder if vitamins for toddlers are a good idea or not.  There is not a lot of solid guidance on the subject.  The American Academy of Pediatrics give advice that says only to give your toddler a vitamin if your pediatrician suggests it.  But along with this statement, the AAP does say that giving your toddler a multivitamin won’t hurt.  So what is a parent supposed to do?

Many parents are predisposed to err on the side of caution when it comes to their children.  If vitamins for toddlers won’t hurt, and can potentially be helpful, then many parents will give their child the vitamin.  Many experts agree with this philosophy and say that a daily vitamin will fill in gaps when kids don’t eat a balanced diet.

As with adults, children should get their vitamin and mineral requirements from eating a balanced diet.  It’s well recognized that this doesn’t always happen.  One myth about eating a balanced diet is that each requirement needs to be fulfilled each day.  The reality is that if over a period of time, say a week, vitamin and mineral requirements are met, it’s alright. 

Some children (and adults) may not be able to get the right amount of vitamins due to several reasons.  Some people are picky eaters.  Others purposely restrict their diets, such as vegetarians.  Some people have allergies or sensitivities that may make them deficient in certain nutritional areas.  After discussing these situations with a doctor, a vitamin supplement will probably be recommended.  Caution must be taken though to make sure that children learn healthy eating habits.  Vitamin supplements should not be used in order to ignore proper nutrition.

Experts caution that parents be very clear that vitamins are medicine.  Some children’s vitamins have fun shapes, taste good, or even are in the form of candy, such as gummy bears or gum.  If children are not educated about the proper way to take vitamins and the dangers of taking too many, there is a serious risk of overdose.  The most serious mineral overdose is that of Iron, which can cause death.

Be attentive to changes in behavior or other changes, such as tummy aches or itching, after you’ve started your child on a vitamin.  Most vitamins contain minerals such as nickel that some people cannot tolerate.  If you suspect that your child is having a reaction to the daily multivitamin, stop giving it and see if the reaction disappears.  If you wish to continue giving a multivitamin to your child, you may need to consult a doctor to get ideas about which mineral may have caused the problem so that you can choose an appropriate supplement.

Most vitamins do not contain 100 percent of all your child’s vitamin needs, or the recommended daily amount.  Depending on your child’s diet, you may want to find a vitamin that meets your particular needs, such as one that contains more calcium, or more vitamin B, depending on the perceived deficiencies.  If your child doesn’t drink milk or eat cheese or yoghurt, you may need to find a vitamin that has a higher percentage RDA of calcium.  Also, since natural forms of vitamins and minerals are more readily absorbed and used by the body, don’t rely on vitamin supplements alone.  Many food now are fortified with vitamins and minerals.  For children, many orange juices are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, while most cereals are fortified with multiple vitamins and minerals.

Remember that there is never a reason to give a toddler more than one vitamin per day.  The old adage of a little is good, so a lot is better is not true in this case.  Even if your child is having an especially bad week for nutrition, never give them more than one vitamin.  If your child’s nutrition is particularly concerning, get in touch with a dietician or nutritionist who can help with planning a balanced diet that your child will eat.