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Myth Buster : All Children need to be given Nutrition Supplements

Most healthy children showing normal growth do not necessarily require supplements or multivitamins. Fresh and natural foods are the best source of nutrients for these kids. If they are regular eaters who are fuss-free, normal meals and snacks can easily suffice for all their nutritional requirements. Ideally, kids get their vitamins from a balanced diet filled with healthy food choices that include:

●      Milk and dairy products like cheese and yoghurt
●      Surplus amounts of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables
●      Protein like chicken, fish, meat, and eggs
●      Whole grains like steel-cut oats and brown rice


While there might be cases of many young children being picky eaters, that alone doesn't necessarily cause any nutritional deficiencies, as nowadays many common foods such as breakfast cereal, milk, and orange juice are fortified with essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. So, your child may be getting enough vitamins and minerals required for healthy growth.


Furthermore, multivitamin supplements come with their own risks. Higher doses than recommended can be toxic, and sometimes vitamins and minerals can interact with other medications your child may be on. Therefore, it is advisable to first talk with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child’s nutrition levels.


Which kids need nutrient supplements?

Due to today’s time-crunched lives, home-cooked meals aren't always possible. Pediatricians may recommend a set dose of multivitamins or mineral supplements for a child who is:


1. Not eating regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods

2. Finicky eaters who simply aren't eating enough

3. Suffering from chronic medical conditions such as asthma or digestive problems, especially if they're taking medications.

4. Eating a lot of fast food, convenience food, and processed food

5. On a vegetarian or a vegan diet as they may require an iron supplement, a dairy-free diet as they may need calcium supplements, or other restricted diets

6. Drink a lot of carbonated sodas, which can leach vitamins and minerals from their bodies


The most essential nutritional supplements for growing kids:

It is essential to have a diet full of all vitamins and minerals, but a few are more crucial for
growing kids.

1. Vitamin A: It is essential for promoting normal growth and development; tissue and bone repair; and healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow-to-orange vegetables like carrots, yams, and squash are very good sources of this.

2. Vitamin B complex: The family of B vitamins B2, B3, B6, and B12 support metabolism, and energy production, and maintain the health of the circulatory and nervous systems. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and soybeans.

3. Vitamin C: It is associated with promoting healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin via foods such as citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, and green vegetables like broccoli.

4. Vitamin D: It is associated with promoting bone and tooth formation and helps the body absorb calcium gained from sources including milk and fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight.

5. Calcium: It is a macronutrient required by the body in larger quantities for building strong bones in the child’s growth. Good sources include milk, cheese, yoghurt, tofu, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

6. Iron: It is essential in muscle building and for healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is a common risk in adolescence, especially in girls who have begun menstruating. Some of the important sources include beef and other red meats, turkey, pork, spinach, beans, and prunes.


How can supplements and multivitamins be harmful?

The majority of children on balanced diets do not need nutritional supplements, unless clinically indicated and prescribed by the doctor.


However, due to following reasons, the supplements or multivitamins could be harmful;
●      Overconsumption: flavored gummies consumed as candy
●      Toxicity: Especially ADEK, fat soluble can be stored in body fat
●      Commercially influenced- brands/pharma selling


Subsets warranting multivitamins:
●      Chronic illnesses- CKD, CLD, IBD, Rickets, anemia
●      Allergies- Celiac diseases, lactose intolerances
●      Primary breast fed, delayed weaning and fussy eaters.
●      Fad diets such as vegan and keto



Healthy kids get their best sources of nutrients from the farmer's market. It is important to manage a balanced diet, starting by serving a wide range of whole, fresh foods as much as possible. That's far better than choosing fast foods or convenience foods supplemented with vitamins, which is a big nutritional no-no.

You'll find higher sources of vitamins and minerals in foods high in carbohydrates and proteins as compared to fats. By far, fresh fruits and vegetables provide the highest sources of vitamins. Add more variety to a kid’s plate for them to gain nutrients from various sources while keeping it fun and experimental for the kids too.

It is not recommended to increase the amount of food on the plate. Today, there are twice as many kids who are overweight than just two decades ago, so be mindful and use kid-sized food portions, which are usually one-quarter to one-third the size of adult portions.

The variety of foods does not have to be concentrated into one meal but rather spread out into several small meals and snacks throughout the day. If your child won't eat a particular food, like vegetables, do not force them to eat it. Either change the vegetable to one with similar nutritional values or reintroduce those foods prepared in a different form after a few days.

Medanta Medical Team
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