Let's Talk About Vitamins

There are so many different types of vitamins, and so many formulations. How do you know which do what for your child, and which ones are important?

Let's look at the important ones:

Vitamin A is important for healthy skin and normal growth, and it also helps vision and tissue repair. Vitamin A can be found in rich quantities in yellow and orange vegetables, dairy products, and liver.

Vitamin B helps the body produce red blood cells and assists in metabolic activities. Vitamin B is found in meat, poultry, fish, soy, milk, eggs, whole grains, and enriched breads and cereals.

Vitamin C is the body's tool for healing and fighting off infection, and it also strengthens tissue, muscles and skin. For healthy doses of Vitamin C, look to citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli.

Vitamin D helps the body form and maintain strong teeth and bones and assists with the absorption of minerals such as calcium. Vitamin D is found in fortified dairy products and in fish oils. Adequate exposure to sunlight is also a way to get enough Vitamin D. Sunlight stimulates the vitamin, which naturally occurs in the skin, to become active in the body. (Remember not to stay in the sun too long without SPF protection.)

Iron is important for kids, especially during periods of accelerated growth. Iron contributes to the production of blood and the building of muscles. Beef, turkey, fish, beans, and fortified breads and cereals, are excellent sources of iron.

Calcium is vital for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Consuming inadequate amounts during childhood can affect growth and development, but can also lead to weak, fragile and porous bones (potentially leading to osteoporosis later in life). Calcium is found in low-fat milk, sardines, yogurt and cheese. It is also present in lesser amounts in vegetables such as broccoli.

How Much Do Kids Need?

For children and teens with highly selective diets, such as vegetarianism or a dairy-free diet, and for children with erratic eating patterns, a healthcare provider/doctor may recommend a daily supplement, as per recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Over-the-counter vitamin supplements are typically safe, and come in chewable forms in case your child has difficulty swallowing, but check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned.
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