The importance of vitamins for kids

Is there a place for vitamin supplements in our children’s diets?


Every parent and caregiver knows healthy foods are the best source of nutrients for their children. However, we worry they may not be getting enough. We quiz Dr Nagwan Said Mohammed, registrar pediatrician at CEDARS – Jebel Ali International Hospital, to find out how concerned we should be.

Do children need vitamins to supplement their diets?
Not necessarily. Ideally, kids should get their vitamins from a balanced, healthy diet that includes milk and dairy products like cheese and yoghurt, plenty of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables, protein like chicken, fish, and eggs, and wholegrains like oats and brown rice. However, pediatricians may recommend a daily multivitamin or mineral supplement for some kids who aren’t eating regular, well-balanced meals made from fresh, whole foods, or picky eaters who simply aren’t eating enough. We might also recommend supplements for children who are on restrictive diets or with chronic conditions such as asthma or digestive illnesses.

What would you recommend?
There are some essential vitamins and minerals that are very critical for growing children. Vitamin A promotes normal growth and development, tissue and bone repair, and healthy skin, eyes and immune responses. Good sources include dairy products, eggs and carrots. Vitamin Bs – B2, B3, B6, and B12 – are essential for metabolism and energy production, plus healthy circulatory and nervous systems. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk and soybeans. Vitamin C promotes healthy muscles, connective tissue and skin. Good sources are green vegetables and fruits. Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth formation and helps the body absorb calcium. Good sources are milk and fish, like salmon and mackerel, and adequate sunlight. In addition, important minerals like calcium helps to build strong bones as a child grows. Good sources include milk, cheese, yoghurt and iron, all of which builds muscle and are essential to healthy red blood cells.

What are the benefits of these for the whole child’s wellness?
It is so important for children to eat healthily and to make sure they are getting all the energy and nutrients they need in order to grow and develop properly. Vitamin deficiencies can create or exacerbate chronic health conditions. Talk with your child’s doctor if you’re concerned, as a multivitamin might be helpful if he or she has a delay in physical and developmental growth or has certain chronic diseases or food allergies.
CEDARS – Jebel Ali International Hospital, (04 881 4000).

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