In order to grow into healthy, strong adults, children require vitamins. Vitamins can be defined as organic substances essential to the normal functioning of the cells of the body. They are only needed in trace amounts, but they direct the growth and development of bones and tissues.
Toddlers and small children are often picky eaters whose diets do not meet all their nutritional needs. Consequently, parents need to provide a safety net for combating infections and to help them flourish physically and mentally.
Today there are a variety of commercial vitamin products available for children. It is also important to teach children about vitamins, to help them understand the need to eat a variety of healthy foods. Even breastfed children benefit from 200 IU of vitamin D every day, and children in their teens generally benefit from vitamin supplementation, as their diets are often inadequate.
The best way to provide children with vitamins is to include real, healthy food in their diets – foods like oranges, peaches, strawberries, broccoli, carrots, squash, red bell peppers and yams. If your child resists a variety of healthy foods, supplements are the next best thing. Use a multivitamin with iron and calcium. Iron prevents anemia, and calcium builds healthy teeth and bones. Iron is also sometimes added to cereals.
When you are choosing a vitamin supplement for your child, look for a product made from whole food ingredients, as they offer better health benefits. In addition to vitamin D (mentioned above), vitamins C and E are also critical for children. Vitamin C aids in healing of wounds, including the scrapes and bruises of childhood. Vitamin E maintains the correct level of fatty acids; the mixed tocopherol form is best. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and cuts the risk of broken bones.
Manufacturers of children’s vitamin supplements have made them attractive to kids by using fun shapes, characters and flavors. Some are chewable, and others come in the form of “gummy” drops. So even if your kids resist healthy food for a time, you have good resources to meet their nutritional needs.