Vitamin supplements for children
Children’s health is the number one concern for all parents. Children always get the best and the healthiest foods. But unfortunately, it is impossible to get all the necessary vitamins and elements from food alone. This is where vitamin supplements come to help. But how to tell which vitamins are best for your child?
Of course, you need to consult a doctor to make the right choice. But you should also have some general knowledge about vitamins. This article describes most common vitamins and their uses.
What are vitamins?
The word vitamin is derived from a latin word meaning “life”. Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for a living organism to function. They participate in all biological processes.
All known vitamins are divided into two categories: water-soluble (C, P and B), and fat-soluble (A, K, E and D).
- Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is responsible for the digestion of carbongydrates and fats. It is necessary for the development of the immune system and the nervous system. It is a common part of all vitamin mixes for children.
- Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is important for the vision. Deficiency of vitamin B2 may cause eye problems and inflammation of the corners of the mouth.
- Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is essential for the functions of the nervous system and the circulatory system.
- Vitamin B9, or folic acid, participates in the generation of new blood cells and assists the process of cell division.
- Vitamin B3, or niacin, is important for the functions of the stomach and the pancreas. Deficiency of this vitamin causes skin problems, unexplained diarrheas and irritability, weakened immune system. All vitamin mixes for children contain vitamin B3.
- Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is important for regeneration processes, as well as protein synthesis and fluid balance.
- Vitamin H, or biotin, is necessary for digestion of fatty acids and CO2 exchange inside the cells. Biotin deficiency causes tiredness and loss of appetite. Vitamin H can be found in all vitamin mixes for children.
- Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, affects the synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids. The most common cause of B12 deficiency is parasitic infections.
- Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, regulates oxidation-reduction processes and participates in the metabolism. It strengthens the walls of blood vessels and improves the blood’s ability to coagulate.
- Vitamin A contributes to the healthy development of the child’s skeletal system, eyes, hair and nails.
- Vitamin D assists the digestion of calcium and phosphorus, and promotes strong bones and teeth. All calcium vitamin supplements for children contain vitamin D.
- Vitamin E has many functions, the antioxidant function being the most important.
- Vitamins K1 and K2 are important for the clotting function of blood, and for the functioning of tissue cells.
Apart from vitamins, a growing child needs certain minerals. They are also available as dietary supplements.
- Potassium is necessary for the regulation of the water balance. It prevents dehydration of the cells.
- Calcium is the most important of all minerals. Most calcium in the human body is stored in the bones and teeth. The rest of the calcium plays important roles in the functions of the heart and the muscular system.
- Magnesium participates in energy processes in all vital organs – the brain, the spinal cord, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the liver. Many vitamin supplements for children contain both calcium and magnesium.
- Zinc plays an important role in gene expression and prevents the risk of tumors.
- Selenium is needed for the processes of cell division and for normal functioning of most organs.
So, vitamin and mineral supplements are essential for the health of your child. How to choose the best ones? Here are a few simple rules.
Choosing vitamin supplements for children
The most important rule: use only vitamin supplements designed for your child’s age group. The dosage and the proportions of vitamins are very different for an adult, a teenager and a toddler.
The formulation is also very important. Grown-up kids can be convinced to swallow a pill, but a 3-year-old will not listen to your arguments.
Vitamins for the smallest children are made in the form of syrups or powders that you can dissolve in milk or mix with food. For children 2 years and older vitamin supplements are made as chewable tablets or gummy bears. They are very appealing to children, so you must me careful to store them out of reach. For children 4 years and older vitamin and mineral supplements in the form of pills can be prescribed to treat vitamin deficiencies.
There are different types of vitamin supplements.
So-called first generation vitamins contain a single component, such as vitamin A or vitamin C. These are usually prescribed for a specific vitamin deficiency.
Second generation vitamin supplements combines several vitamins and minerals that interact with each other. For instance, vitamin D is the most effective when used together with magnesium.
Third generation vitamin mixes also contain fruit and herbal extracts. But keep in mind that some of them may cause allergic reactions. For instance, if your child is allergic to citrus fruit, avoid vitamins supplements that are made with oranges or lemons.
Unless instructed otherwise by the doctor, vitamin supplements should be given to children during winter and spring seasons. The best time to take vitamins is in the morning, immediately after breakfast. Never exceed the recommended dosage printed on the box or prescribed by the doctor.