Given the reality of time-crunched parents, those well-rounded, home-cooked meals aren’t
always possible. That’s why pediatricians may recommend a daily multivitamin or minera supplement for:

Kids who aren’t eating regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods Finicky eaters who simply aren’t eating enough Kids with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or digestive problems, especially if they’re taking medications (be sure to talk with your child’s doctor first before starting a supplement if your child is on medication)

Particularly active kids who play physically demanding sports Kids eating a lot of fast foods, convenience foods, and processed foods

Kids on a vegetarian diet (they may need an iron supplement), a dairy-free diet (they may need a calcium supplement), or other restricted diet Kids who drink a lot of carbonated sodas, which can leach vitamins and minerals from their bodies

Top Six Vitamins and Minerals for Kids

In the alphabet soup of vitamins and minerals, a few stand out as critical for growing kids.

Vitamin A promotes normal growth and development; tissue and bone repair; and healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Good sources include milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow-to-orange vegetables like carrots, yams, and squash.

Vitamin Bs. The family of B vitamins — B2, B3, B6, and B12 — aid metabolism, energy production, and healthy circulatory and nervous systems. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and soybeans.

Vitamin C promotes healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin. Good sources include citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, and green vegetables like broccoli.

Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth formation and helps the body absorbcalcium. Good sources include milk and other dairy products, and fish oil. The best source of vitamin D is

Calcium helps build strong bones as a child grows. Good sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

Iron builds muscle and is essential to healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is a risk in
adolescence, especially for girls once they begin to menstruate. Good sources include beef and other red meats, turkey, pork, spinach, beans, and prunes.

Megavitamins large doses of vitamins — aren’t a good idea for children. The fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) can be toxic if kids overdose on excessive amounts. Ditto with iron. Your kids can get too much of a good thing.

Q. Does my child need a multivitamin?

A. While most well-nourished children probably do not need a multivitamin, there appears to be no harm (and probably some benefit) from taking a good one. A high-quality multivitamin will provide at least the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of its key ingredients, it will contain no unnecessary additives, and it
will meet its label claims for nutrient content. Several good children’s multivitamins are available, some in chewable form. Consult with a healthcare provider if you have questions about how to choose a high-quality multivitamin.

Children from low-income households are at the highest risk of nutritional deficiencies. Studies suggest that, in these groups, multivitamin supplementation can improve brain function and attention in school, fortify the immune system against infection, and prevent nutritional deficiency diseases such as anemia (caused by deficiency of iron or certain B-complex vitamins) and rickets (caused by vitamin D deficiency).

Improved performance on IQ tests has been observed in some children who take a daily multivitamin, compared with those who do not. However, the results of this research are
not conclusive, and it may be that the children who benefited were marginally deficient in iron and had that deficiency corrected by the multivitamin.