Vitamins are essential substances that your body needs, in small amounts, for normal growth and development. They cannot be manufactured in sufficient quantities by the body and so must be obtained from the diet.
Plenty of foods naturally contain vitamins, so kids who eat a balanced diet containing meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables and wholegrain usually don’t need supplementation. However, given the reality of busy schedules, irregular eating habits and fussy eaters, it’s not always easy to ensure kids get all the nutrients they need. This is where a daily multivitamin can step in to help fill any nutritional gaps.
Kids need a range of vitamins to grow healthy and each vitamin plays its own function in the body. The most essential vitamins include:
• Vitamin A: to promote healthy eyes, skin and immune system
(Found in dairy, carrots, broccoli)
• B Vitamins: to develop the nervous and circulatory systems
(Found in wholegrains, chicken, tuna & soy products)
• Vitamin C: to support the immune system
(Found in oranges, strawberries & tomatoes)
• Vitamin D: to develop healthy teeth and bones
(Found in eggs & oily fish)
The Department of Health recommends that all children from six months to 5 years old are given supplements containing vitamins A, C and D in the form of vitamin drops eg. Abidec Multivitamin Drops.
For older children (6 years +), a multivitamin supplement should be considered for those who are picky eaters, have chronic medical conditions affecting food absorption, are very active or are on a vegetarian or specific restricted diet. These children may really benefit from an extra boost of nutrients. There are many multivitamin options available over-the-counter from your local pharmacy eg. Floradix Kindervital, Haliborange Multivitamins.
Minerals are other key nutrients required by the body that go hand in hand with vitamins to maximise the health benefits for which they are intended. Essential minerals include calcium, found in milk and dairy, which works with vitamin D to build strong bones. These essential minerals will be found in most over-the-counter multivitamin products to combine the vitamins and minerals your child needs.
Although vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful, they should never be viewed as a substitute for nutritious food, as the body absorbs nutrients from foods much more effectively than it absorbs nutrients from supplements. The over-the-counter supplements are generally safe, however, they are still drugs and if taken in excessive amounts, some can be toxic. Stick to the recommended dose on the pack, keep them hidden out of reach of children and always consult your GP or pharmacist for help and advice before giving your child any multivitamin product.
Richard Dunn is a community pharmacist with Gordons Chemists.
Gordons Chemists is the largest independently owned retail pharmacy chain in Northern Ireland. Established in 1980, Gordons now has 60 pharmacies on the high street and in shopping centres across Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Products described are available at most pharmacies and Gordons Chemists does not endorse any individual product. Always consult your pharmacist in relation to your individual symptoms.