Balance your diet, balance your health Balance your diet, balance your health

Focus on These Key Vitamins for Kids

If you want to make sure your kids are getting the vitamins and minerals they need each day, the most important thing is to make sure they’re eating an overall balanced, varied and healthy diet. That means (depending on their age) they’re eating about 1 to 2 cups of fruit, 2 to 4 cups of vegetables, 3 cups of dairy, mostly whole grains when they eat grain foods, and plenty of lean protein.


Per day. Every day.


You can have some indulgent foods, sure, but just not too much, and maybe not every day.


Not as easy as it sounds, right?


Why Do Kids Need Vitamins?


Vitamins are nutrients in foods that help kids grow and develop. They’re important for adults too – they work in the body to support metabolism, immunity, digestion and other important functions. Vitamins are considered “essential” because you need to get these nutrients from the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. Your body can’t make them on its own.


Vitamins for Kids


Which Vitamins for Kids are Most Important?


Most kids (and adults, to be honest) don’t get enough vitamin D in their diets. Along with vitamins C and E, vitamin D helps support the body’s immune system. If you know anything about kids, you know how quickly germs spread! A good diet with vitamins D, C and E can help.


What is Vitamin D?


Vitamin D is probably best known for its role in bone health. It helps clear a path for calcium to get into the body to strengthen teeth and bones. The immune system also depends on vitamin D to help produce immune cells that work against harmful organisms. Kids need about 15 micrograms (or 600 IUs) per day.


Best Sources of Vitamin D for Kids


You might’ve heard vitamin D called “the sunshine vitamin,” because you can get it from the sun’s rays. It’s also found in just a few key food sources, too:


  • Milk
  • Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon
  • Eggs
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified nutritional drinks


What is Vitamin C?


One of the body’s most important antioxidants, vitamin C, is a key nutrient for immune support. It also helps the body absorb iron, which is another nutrient that kids (especially teenage girls) need. Luckily, vitamin C is found in a lot of foods and drinks, so it’s not terribly hard to find. Of course, it’s mostly found in fruits and vegetables, so if your child isn’t getting enough of those (and most aren’t) you might want to look to fortified foods and drinks.


Target Amounts of Vitamin C for Kids


As kids get older, their daily needs increase:


  • Ages 4-8: 25 mg
  • Ages 9-13: 45 mg
  • Girls ages 14-18: 65 mg
  • Boys ages 14-18: 75 mg


What is Vitamin E?


Things like polluted air, ultraviolet light, bacteria and germs can all invade the body and cause harm. Vitamin E acts like a wizard, zapping the powers of these invaders and neutralizing them so they can’t do damage. It's a great antioxidant which is important for kids health and wellness.


How Much Vitamin E Do Kids Need?


Again, the daily amount depends on how old your kids are:


  • Ages 4-8: 7 mg
  • Ages 9-13: 11 mg
  • Ages 14-18: 15 mg


Unfortunately, most kids don’t get enough vitamin E. The best food sources are nuts and seeds, but you can also find it in fortified foods and drinks.


Should My Child Take a Supplement?


If your kids are generally healthy and eat a balanced diet, chances are they don’t need a dietary supplement. Even though you can buy them over the counter, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider about the use of dietary supplements for your kids.


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