Many parents give their children a varied and healthy diet yet still give them vitamin supplements in an effort to ward off illnesses and bugs. But, do your kids need extra vitamins? Are they getting enough from their food every day? Here, we look into what your child needs and what are the most common vitamin deficiencies in Australia.
What vitamins and minerals does your child need?
What’s it for? We need it for our eyesight, skin, growth, and immune system.
Where can we get it? Meat, eggs, milk, orange fruit, and vegies such as carrots, and sweet potatoes
Vitamin B group
What’s it for? Each of the vitamin B’s work together to help the body function. They break down fats, help us absorb food, support the production of red blood cells, improve brain function, and promote growth.
Where can we get it? Meat, fish, eggs, yeast extracts, cereals, wholemeal breads, cheese, vegetables, and nuts.
What’s it for? It helps fight infections. It keeps the immune system running efficiently and helps to keep our bones, teeth, and gums healthy.
Where can we get it? Fruits and vegetables such as kiwi fruit, oranges, kale, capsicums, spinach, broccoli, etc.
What’s it for? Helps us absorb calcium and keeps our bones strong and healthy.
Where can we get it? We make vitamin D in our body from absorbing direct sunlight through our skin. We can get small amounts from cod liver oil, oily fish, dairy products, and eggs.
What’s it for? It acts as an anti-oxidant and boosts the immune system.
Where can we get it? Sunflower and canola oils, margarine, and nuts.
Minerals iron, iodine, calcium and zinc
What are they for? Iron is important for the blood and brain function. Kids need iron to help them grow. Iodine is also important for growth and tissue development. Calcium is needed to build strong bones and teeth and zinc helps growth, wound healing, and the immune system.
Where can we get them? Iron is in meat, liver, seafood, beans, egg yolks, and cereals. Iodine is found in dairy products, seafood and iodised salt. Calcium is in dairy products and some fish. Zinc is in meat, seafood, milk, and wholegrain cereals.
Most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in Australian kids
Vitamin D a lack of vitamin D can result in children getting rickets and bone disease. Pregnant mother’s need to be careful of their vitamin D levels as they need to pass it on to the baby.
Vitamin B12 some breastfed babies might not get sufficient levels of vitamin B12.
Calcium some teenagers do not get enough calcium from their diets.
Iodine insufficient levels of iodine can cause goitre and mental health issues.
Iron if your family eat a vegetarian or vegan diet then it is important to get iron from other sources or take supplements.
Zinc a lack of the mineral zinc can slow down your kid’s growth. Kids that are most susceptible to a zinc deficiency is toddlers and children with a vegetarian or vegan diet.
When to give your kids supplements?
Our bodies absorb vitamins more easily and efficiently when they come from foods rather than supplements. Kids only need a small amount of vitamins and minerals – taking too many supplements can be more damaging than good as they can build up in the body. Children with food allergies, food intolerances, or those on vegetarian or vegan diets may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements because they cannot get them in food. Also, if you child is a particularly fussy eater then they might not be getting the vitamins that their bodies need so you might then give them multi-vitamin supplements. Some parents may give their babies follow-on formulas when they reach a year as their diets might still be varied at that stage and many formulas contain vital vitamins.
Tips on getting your kids to consume their vitamins
- If your child refuses certain foods then try to get around their fussiness by finding a new recipe that they might enjoy and still get those vital vitamins.
- If they hate fruit then make it fun by making faces made of fruit on their plates, try fruit on skewers, or blend it up with some natural yoghurt and honey.
- If your child hates their vegies then grate, dice or blend up them up into dinners and disguise them in a sauce.
- If your child is particularly fussy, then try and try again they may just give in!
- If you are worried about your child getting enough vitamins and minerals then speak to your doctor or contact a dietician for advice.
Do you give your child vitamins supplements? Do you think your kids are getting enough vitamins in their diet?