Nutrition experts will tell you that a well chosen diet filled with a variety of nutrient rich foods is the best way to meet your child’s nutritional requirements. That being said, most of those nutrition experts haven’t tried to convince a four year old to polish off a plate of broccoli and kidney beans.
In the real world, getting young children to eat a Healthy Diet can be tricky, so many parents choose to supplement their children’s diets with a daily multivitamin. In order to choose wisely, it’s a good idea to have a basic idea of the role of various vitamins.
Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene) – is vital for the growth and repair of body tissues, strengthens the immune system, and is especially important for eye health. Milk, eggs, and leafy greens are good sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) – is important for healthy nerve functioning and assists in the growth and toning of muscles. Whole grains, seeds, legumes, and nuts are rich in vitamin B1.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – is necessary for the health of red blood cells as well as for the creation of hormones. Also, there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin B2 may ward off migraine headaches. Food sources include meats, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – assists in healthy nerve function, digestion, and circulation. Look for vitamin B3 in fish, chicken, whole grains, and legumes.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – helps the body to convert fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy. It is also vital for the production of steroids in the adrenal gland. Beef, eggs, legumes, saltwater fish, and whole wheat are good sources of vitamin B5.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – promotes healthy red cell formation, maintains nerve function, and even helps to prevent heart disease. Natural sources of vitamin B6 include bananas, eggs, cantaloupe, wheat germ, beef, and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) – prevents nerve damage, aids in the development of healthy red blood cells, assists in digestion and in the digestion of protein. Studies confirm that women who are of child-bearing age should be sure that they get enough folate since it can help to prevent birth defects in a growing fetus. Food sources include mushrooms, liver, broccoli, lima beans, brewers yeast, and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) – helps to maintain nerve function, keeps red blood cells functioning, boosts the immune system, and helps to prevent heart disease. Beef, fish, poultry, and dairy products are good sources of vitamin B12.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) – accelerates healing after injury or illness, helps to maintain red blood cells, and boosts the immune system. Look for vitamin C in citrus fruits, dark green vegetables, tomatoes, and peppers.
Vitamin D (Ergosterol) – helps to build bones and teeth, strengthens the nervous system, and assists in normal blood clotting. Natural sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, fish liver oils, sardines, salmon, mushrooms, and fortified milk.
Vitamin E (Tocopherol) – is important in muscle and nerve maintenance, increases joint mobility, improves circulation, dissolves blot clots, and helps to reduce cholesterol. Additionally, vitamin E helps to protect lung tissue from pollutants. Vegetable oils, eggs, green leafy vegetables, brussel sprouts, and wheat germ all contain significant amounts of vitamin E.
Vitamin H (Biotin) – sometimes referred to as vitamin B7, aids in energy production, the synthesis of fatty acids, and supports the nervous system. Biotin also helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Food sources include dairy products, egg yolks, brewers yeast, and some seafood.
Vitamin K (Menadione) – is most well known for its ability to assure proper blood clotting. Look for vitamin K in alfalfa, fish liver oil, kelp, yoghurt, and green leafy vegetables.
Getting the Necessary Nutrients
While it is usually a safe practice to give your child a daily multivitamin supplement, it is still a good idea to check with your GP before doing so. Recommended daily dosages vary, depending on a number of factors including age, weight, and overall health status, so to be safe start with a check up. This is especially important if your child is experiencing any troubling symptoms.