Do Children Need Nutritional Supplements?

Published on: October 12, 2020

We know that vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy development and a balanced diet is key. If your child is not eating well you may have wondered about giving them nutritional supplements.  Here is what you need to know about supplements for children and whether your child needs them.   By Dr. Donna Robinson Children need a healthy balanced diet containing foods from each food group to get a wide range of nutrients to help them stay healthy and grow properly. In general, kids with well-balanced diets usually need few, if any, nutritional supplements. However, some kids don’t eat well-balanced diets, and given the reality of our busy lives sometimes well-rounded, home-cooked meals aren’t always possible. That is why some pediatricians recommend a daily intake of multivitamin or mineral supplements. If a child is simply a picky eater or on a vegan diet or they have certain medical conditions such as anemia then they may require nutritional supplements.  However, not all children need them, as the food they eat on a regular basis is the best source of nutrients.  It is crucial for parents to understand the importance of the key vitamins and minerals and their sources. Nutrition labels on food packaging show which foods contain the proper nutrients to help guide parents into selecting the right food. Due to the fact that the body cannot naturally produce all the necessary vitamins and minerals, it is important to ensure that kids get these vital building blocks in the foods they eat.  Two of the most important vitamins are vitamin A and B; vitamin A promotes normal growth and development, healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Good sources include milk, eggs, and yellow-to-orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.  Additionally, vitamin B6, and B12 are also essential as these help to aid metabolism, energy production, and healthy circulatory and nervous systems. These can be found mostly in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy or in beans for those who are vegan and vegetarian. Iron and calcium are also very important for kids, especially during periods of accelerated growth and development.  Not only does eating a variety of foods keep our meals flavorful, but it also makes it interesting for the children. It is the key to a healthy and balanced diet because each food has a unique mix of nutrients—both mac­ronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Start by filling half of your child’s plate with colorful vegetables and fruits, and split the other half between healthy protein and whole grains. The best foods are whole, fresh, and unprocessed—fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and meats; and home-cooked meals. Especially here in Thailand where foods are often flavored using large amounts of sodium, refined sugar, and MSG, etc., it is best for children to eat home-cooked meals as much as possible. Whether they are toddlers or in their teens, children develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy eating the most. To encourage healthy eating habits, parents must try and make nutritious choices appealing. Making the food look attractive, getting the child to help in the cooking, or sharing mealtimes with them will definitely encourage them to eat healthier meals in the future. As a parent, it is important for you to shape your child’s diet now as this will have a huge influence on their dietary habits in the future. Photo by F1 Digitals from Pixabay.

About the Author

Dr. Donna is a UK-qualified and experienced doctor, and a mother of two children, both brought up in Bangkok. She practices at her Family Medicine Clinic (MedConsult Clinic) on Sukhumvit Soi 49, Bangkok, where she offers general practice medical services.
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