Should my child take a vitamin supplement? - East Idaho News
Ask the Doctor

Should my child take a vitamin supplement?

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Have a medical-related question you've always wanted answered? The doctors at the Pediatric Center are here to help! Email your 'Ask the Doctor' questions to and they might end up in our weekly column.

Question: Should my child take a vitamin supplement?

Answer: Whether your child should take a vitamin supplement depends on various factors, including their age, diet, overall health, and any specific nutritional needs they may have. In general, if your child is eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy or dairy alternatives, they may not need a vitamin supplement.

However, there are certain situations where a vitamin supplement may be beneficial or even necessary:

  1. Picky eaters: If your child consistently refuses certain food groups or has a very limited diet, they may not be getting all the essential nutrients they need from food alone.
  2. Dietary restrictions: If your child follows a restrictive diet (e.g., vegan or vegetarian) or has food allergies or intolerances, they may be at risk for certain nutrient deficiencies.
  3. Medical conditions: Some medical conditions or medications may interfere with nutrient absorption or increase nutrient needs. In such cases, a healthcare provider may recommend supplementation.
  4. Seasonal factors: During certain times of the year, such as winter when there’s less sunlight for vitamin D synthesis, supplementation may be necessary for some children. In Idaho this is a common deficiency seen.

In general, most children can benefit from a basic multivitamin or a specific single-nutrient supplement if they have a known deficiency. However, it’s important to choose a supplement that is specifically formulated for children and provides appropriate dosages of vitamins and minerals without exceeding recommended daily allowances.

Always follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the healthcare provider or the supplement manufacturer, and store supplements safely out of reach of children to prevent accidental overdose. Dr. Edwards at The Pediatric Center says, “remember that supplements are meant to complement, not replace, a healthy diet. Encouraging your child to eat a variety of nutritious foods remains the best way to ensure they get the nutrients they need for growth and development.”

If you have specific concerns, laboratory studies can be done to determine if there is a specific deficiency.

This column does not establish a provider/patient relationship and is for general informational purposes only. This column is not a substitute for consulting with a physician or other health care provider.