You know your kids need to eat nutritious foods and get enough vitamins and minerals, but which ones do they really need?
To start with, kids and adults have different nutritional needs. So, just because your doctor is telling you to take this or that supplement doesn’t mean your child needs the same thing.
Remember that eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to ensure your child gets these nutrients every day. However, supplements can be a great way to get an added boost of nutrients.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Kids
Trying to keep up with every single vitamin and mineral out there can be a futile task. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but let’s take a look at just a few of the essential vitamins and minerals your kids need to grow up strong and healthy.
Think of calcium as the building block for healthy bones and teeth. Because it’s a crucial part of bone growth and development, calcium is something your kid will need more of as they grow.
Here’s a guideline for how much calcium your kid will need as they develop.
- Ages 1 – 3: 700 mg
- Ages 4 – 8: 1,000 mg
- Ages 9 – 18: 1,300
Milk and other dairy products have a lot of calcium. However, if your family is dairy-free, you can still get calcium from other natural sources, including spinach, salmon, beans, oranges, and papayas. Not to complicate things, but some kids can't actually get enough calcium from veggie sources. We'll talk more about this in another blog post.
Our bodies use iron to build muscle and transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Getting too little iron can lead to anemia, which occurs when the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. Kids with anemia can experience growth and developmental delays. Girls are particularly susceptible to becoming anemic as they start menstruating.
Here’s a guideline for how much iron your child needs as they grow.
- Infants: 11 mg per day
- Ages 1 – 3: 7 mg per day
- Ages 4 – 8: 10 mg per day
- Ages 9 – 13: 8 mg per day
- Boys ages 13 – 18: 11 mg per day
- Girls ages 13 – 18: 15 mg per day
Active kids, including athletes, may need more iron than these recommended amounts. Great sources of iron include organic red meat, turkey, leafy greens like spinach, beans, and prunes.
The B vitamin family includes eight vitamins:
- Thiamin (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
- Biotin (vitamin B7)
- Folate (vitamin B9)
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12)
This family of vitamins is critical for energy and metabolism, along with keeping the nervous system healthy.
B vitamins are often concentrated into the same foods, making it easier for you to ensure your kid is getting enough of each of them. Good sources include eggs, organic red meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, fruits, and leafy green vegetables. If your child follows a vegan or strict vegetarian diet, they may benefit from a supplement, as most people tend to get their daily dose of B vitamins from animal sources.
Don't run out and take a B Complex, however! Many people don't tolerate extra B vitamins beyond a solid multivitamin. If you have questions about this, let us know. We can help.
Need More Vitamins? We’ve Got You Covered
In an ideal world, we would get the nutrients we need strictly from our diet. But, unfortunately, we live in the real world, which sometimes includes eating drive-through dinners after way-too-late-for-a-school-night soccer games.
Not to worry, though. As long as you mostly follow a diet that includes whole fruits, vegetables, protein sources, and grains, your kids will likely get most of the vitamins and minerals they need. For an added bonus, we've created a chewable multivitamin that supplies all of these nutrients plus more. Children ages 1 year and up can benefit from our daily multi.
If you want to learn more about what vitamins you need as an adult or whether your child has a vitamin deficiency, you can find out with our genetic test. It looks at over 40 genes to help you determine how to optimize your wellness based on your genetic makeup.