Don’t know where to start when it comes to products designed for children? Join us as we clear up the confusion and outline the most important nutrients and supplements to support growing kids and teens. Malia Curran, MS, MPH, is a nutrition consultant, speaker and mother of 2 young children.A multivitamin is the most important supplement to give to children:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a multivitamin for kids with poor appetite or erratic eating.
A balanced healthy diet with a variety of whole foods can provide all the nutrients kids need; but children are all different and some eating patterns pose specific problems that can cause nutrient deficiencies.
Children have special nutrient requirements and therefore need special multivitamins. Additionally, requirements change as they grow – such as calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C – these all have specific recommendations for children and teens.
The additional nutrients to focus on for children are:
Essential fatty acids, which are the good fats vital for growth and development.
For children who are not dairy or fortified non-dairy milk drinkers, a calcium/magnesium/vitamin D supplement is important.
Green powder drinks designed specifically for kids can be mixed into drinks, water or smoothies for additional vitamins and minerals, as well as countless antioxidants.
When giving supplements and snacks to children and teens, keep in mind:
It really is important to buy children-specific products. Nutrient needs (and upper limits) do change often as children grow.
Healthy adult snacks are usually fine for children, and sometimes even have fewer sweeteners than kids’ versions. Just be aware of potential choking hazards for young children like whole nuts in granola bars.
Look out for caffeine and herbal content in adult energy snacks and beverages, as these may not be appropriate for children and teens.
Choose snack bars for kids that have some protein and fiber in them, which can often be missing.