Should Kids Take a Multi-Vitamin?

READER’S QUESTION

Should kids take a multi-vitamin?

DR. BLUM’S ANSWER

This depends on the child’s diet. If a child eats a reasonably well-balanced diet with many fruits, vegetables, dairy and proteins there is really no need for vitamin supplementation. For a picky child a multivitamin is a good idea. It doesn’t matter which vitamin you choose, because ingredients are almost the same in each. I would choose based on flavor and the ability to get the child to take the vitamin without a fight. Usually the gummy ones are preferred by the children but not by the dentists. Make sure they brush their teeth well at least twice daily if they use gummy vitamins or eat gummy candy.

Vitamin D supplements are a different question. Many children are not getting enough Vitamin D, which is necessary for bone growth and may be involved in other bodily functions such as the immune system. Guidelines were just released by the Institute of Medicine regarding adequate vitamin D intake. For children age one year through 18 years, they recommend 400-600 IU per day. They expressed concern that amounts over 2000-5000 IU per day have an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. The full article in available online and is called Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D by A. Catharine Ross, Christine Taylor, Ann Yaktine and Heather B. Del Valle by the National Academies Press.

Dr. Robert M. Blum is a pediatrician at Southfield Pediatrics in Bingham Farms and West Bloomfield. Email him questions at askdrblum@www.metroparent.com.

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