Do Children Need Extra Vitamins and Minerals?
Children grow fast, and their developing brains and bodies need vitamins and minerals. Should they take vitamin supplements, or can they get everything they need from food?
Babies and children eating a balanced and healthy diet should get all the vitamins and minerals from their food. However, there are some situations where they do need just a little bit extra. Babies and children, especially those who are very young, should only be given vitamin and mineral supplements on the advice of a doctor.
Premature BabiesPremature and low-birth weight babies may need extra vitamins and minerals, especially iron, because they were not able to build up high enough stores from their mothers. This may also be true of babies born to women with poorly controlled diabetes.
BabiesBabies who are breast-fed should get all the vitamins and minerals they need from the breast milk, but it is important that women who are pregnant or breast-feeding are eating a healthy and balanced diet and are getting all the nutrients they need, especially if they are vegetarian or vegan. If the mother doesn’t get enough vitamins and minerals, or isn’t getting enough exposure to sunlight to form vitamin D in her skin, the baby may need a supplement.
When choosing a formula for bottle-fed babies it is a good idea to pick one that has vitamin and mineral supplements in it, and is designed for babies and children of the right age. If the formula is made up from bottled or filtered water rather than fluoridated tap water, the baby may need a fluoride supplement to help the formation of healthy teeth.
Babies are born with iron stores lasting for their first four to six months, and they should start to get iron from their food after this.