When Should Kids Start Taking Vitamins?

Oct 19, 2021 Kids' Health

When Should Kids Start Taking Vitamins?

Quick Health Scoop

  • Vitamins and minerals are vital at every stage of life, and especially during a child’s early developmental years. 
  • Children should be able to get all the essential nutrients they need from a healthy, well-balanced diet. But nutritional supplements can help ensure your kids get the vitamins and minerals that might otherwise be missing from their diets.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children up to one year of age supplement with 400 IU of Vitamin D. A multivitamin supplement with at least 600–1000 IU of Vitamin D can help fill dietary gaps as children grow older.1, 2
  • A Vitamin B12 supplement can help ensure any vegan or vegetarian kids in your family get the right amounts of this brain and nervous system support nutrient. 
  • Calcium and Vitamin D make a great combo for supporting healthy bone development. 
  • Multivitamins often offer a range of essential nutrients, including Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and more—and can help address any gaps that might occur in your child’s diet.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider to see if nutritional supplements are right for your child.  

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs in order to not only survive—but thrive. This is true throughout life and especially true for growing children.3 Kids need all of these essential nutrients in the right amounts to support healthy growth and development. 

And while all the nutrients your little ones need can be found in a healthy, well-balanced diet (plus a dash of sunshine for that Vitamin D), anyone with kids knows that’s not always possible. Nutritional supplements can help ensure your little ones get the support they need every day.

Should a 1-Year-Old Take Vitamins?

This is the age when many children transition from breast or bottle feeding to food, and with any dietary change, new nutrient gaps can emerge. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children up to one year of age supplement with 400 IU of Vitamin D. Children often fall short of meeting Vitamin D needs as they grow older, so it can be helpful to continue with a Vitamin D supplement (at least 600–1000 IU) as your child grows.1,2

Here’s a general overview of key nutrients and the amounts your 1-year-old should be getting from food each day:4

Daily Recommended Amounts for Toddlers

1–3 years

Vitamin A (RAE)

300 mcg / day

Vitamin B6

0.5 mg / day

Folate (DFE)

150 mcg / day

Vitamin B12

0.9 mcg / day

Vitamin C

15 mg / day

Vitamin D

15 mcg (600 IU) / day

Vitamin E

6 mg / day

Vitamin K

30 mcg / day

Calcium

700 mg / day

Magnesium

80 mg / day

Zinc

3 mg / day

Do I Need To Give My Toddler Vitamins? 

Toddlers have high nutrient needs to cover all that growth and development that happens during this age. However, everything from dietary restrictions and allergies to their mood that day can affect just how many nutrients parents can sneak into their kids’ meals. 

The Healthy Eating Index gave children ages 2–4 years a 61 out of 100, indicating that their overall diet quality is quite poor.5

That said, there are three key vitamins to note during this age:6

  • 74% of children ages 1–2 aren’t getting the recommended intake of Vitamin D 
  • 82% of children ages 1–2 years aren’t getting enough Vitamin E 
  • 42% of children ages 1–2 aren’t getting enough Vitamin K 

Talk to your healthcare practitioner about whether supplementing with these nutrients or a multivitamin that provides them is suitable for your toddler. 

How Can I Help Support My Toddler’s Immune System?

Supporting your toddler’s overall wellness goes a long way to supporting their immune system as well. Five essential nutrients support the immune system: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Zinc.

Studies show that 74% of children ages 1–2 years aren’t getting enough of Vitamin D, with 82% of the same age range also not getting enough Vitamin E.7

A multivitamin generally contains all of these nutrients in their recommended amounts, which can help support your toddler’s immune system. 

Which Vitamins Should I Give My Kids?

Nutrient needs gradually increase as your child grows. You might find yourself wondering, “what vitamins should I give my 5 year old?” or “which nutrients does my preteen need most?” Here’s an overview of the amounts of key nutrients needed during the childhood, preteen, and teenage years:

Daily Recommended Amounts for Young Children4

4–8 years

Vitamin A (RAE)

400 mcg / day

Vitamin B6

0.6 mg / day

Folate (DFE)

200 mcg / day

Vitamin B12

1.2 mcg / day

Vitamin C

25 mg /day

Vitamin D

15 mcg (600 IU) / day

Vitamin E

7 mg /day

Vitamin K

55 mcg / day

Calcium

1000 mg / day

Magnesium

130 mg / day

Zinc

5 mg / day


Daily Recommended Amounts for Preteens and Teens4

9–13 years

14–18 years

Vitamin A (RAE)

Males

600 mcg / day 

900 mcg / day

Females

600 mcg / day

700 mcg / day

Vitamin B6

Males

1.0 mg / day

1.3 mg / day

Females

1.0 mg / day

1.2 mg / day

Folate (DFE)

Males

300 mcg / day

400 mcg / day

Females

300 mcg / day

400 mcg / day

Vitamin B12

Males

1.8 mcg / day

2.4 mcg / day

Females

1.8 mcg / day

2.4 mcg / day

Vitamin C

Males

45 mg / day

75 mg / day

Females

45 mg / day

65 mg / day

Vitamin D

Males

15 mcg (600 IU) / day

15 mcg (600 IU) / day

Females

15 mcg (600 IU) / day

15 mcg (600 IU) / day

Vitamin E

Males

11 mg / day

15 mg / day

Females

11 mg / day

15 mg / day

Vitamin K

Males

60 mcg / day

75 mcg / day

Females

60 mcg / day

75 mcg / day

Calcium

Males

1300 mg / day

1300 mg / day

Females

1300 mg / day

1300 mg / day

Magnesium

Males

240 mg / day

410 mg / day

Females

240 mg / day

360 mg / day

Zinc

Males

8 mg / day

11 mg / day

Females

8 mg / day

9 mg / day


What Are The Benefits Of Vitamins For Kids?

Vitamins and minerals are vital for kids in the right amounts to support their growth, development, and overall wellbeing. Each nutrient plays unique and specific roles in the body. For example, Calcium and Vitamin D help build strong bones. If your child avoids dairy products, a calcium supplement fortified with Vitamin D can help ensure your child gets enough of these important bone-building nutrients early in life.

Or, if your child follows a vegetarian or vegan diet or avoids animal products in general, they may want to supplement with Vitamin B12, which is only found in animal-based foods.3 If your child avoids fish, an Omega-3 supplement can be an easy way to get in those heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids without consuming seafood. 

Each essential nutrient (all 27 of them) has its unique properties and interacts with the other nutrients in the body to support your child’s overall wellness. And it’s crucial to ensure your kids get the right amounts of these nutrients throughout life, but especially during their formative years. 

Should My Child Take A Multivitamin?

Ideally, kids would get all the nutrients they need from a healthy, well-balanced diet.3 But multivitamins can help ensure kids get all the nutrients they need during these crucial developmental years.3 

Multivitamins often address common nutrient shortfalls and are specifically formulated for certain age groups. You can always check the supplement facts panel on your kids multivitamin for more details on exactly which nutrients are covered and in what amounts. 

For example, Vitamin D is a key nutrient shortfall for many kids.6 Multivitamins tend to provide 300–1000 IU of Vitamin D per serving, and therefore can be an easy way to address this need, plus many others that may arise during your child’s years.1 

Work with your healthcare practitioner to see if supplementing with certain vitamins or a multivitamin at the correct dosages is right for your child.  

At What Age Can A Child Take Adult Multivitamin? 

Children have different nutrient needs than adults, so it is best to stick to a multivitamin for your child's specific age group. As children reach adolescence, it is usually fine to choose a multivitamin tailored to adults. But it’s best to work with your healthcare practitioner to ensure your child meets their individual nutrient needs.

What Vitamins Are Good For Brain Development?

Each of the B vitamins has its own unique and specific role in the body, but they all help support a healthy brain and nervous system, plus support healthy brain cell function. 

Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in fish oil and help support a healthy brain. DHA may help support fetal brain and eye development. Choline is another nutrient of note that often goes overlooked, but this nutrient also helps support healthy brain and nervous system function, plus supports brain cell (membrane) structure. 

What Vitamins Are Good For Child Growth?

All of them. Each of the 27 essential vitamins and minerals plays a unique and specialized role in the healthy growth and development of children.  

Learn More: What Vitamins Should Kids Take?

When Should Kids Start Taking Vitamins?

When your child should start taking nutritional supplements (or whether they should at all) is ultimately up to you and your healthcare practitioner. While vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients vital to your child’s health and development, a healthy well-balanced diet should provide all the nutrients they need. If you find it’s not easy to get your kids to eat the right foods, dietary supplements can help ensure your kids get the nutritional support they need during those early formative years.

The Bottom Line

Ideally, our kids would get all the nutrients they need from their diet alone. But that’s sometimes not possible. Different stages of life may introduce different dietary restrictions, allergies, or a range of other factors that can make a healthy diet for kids even trickier than usual. That’s where supplements for kids can help.

A children’s multivitamin is a great way to address many nutrient shortfalls at once; just make sure it has Vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children up to one year of age supplement with 400 IU of Vitamin D.1 However, kids are at a higher risk of a Vitamin D deficiency, and as such the Endocrine Society recommends 600–1000 IU of Vitamin D for children one year and older.2 You can always grab a separate Vitamin D supplement if your children’s multivitamin doesn’t contain it. 

Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Zinc can all help support your child’s immune system throughout life and into adulthood. Calcium and Vitamin D are a great combo when it comes to supporting strong bones. 

Overall, vitamins and minerals are vital to life. And childhood is no different. Ensuring your kids get the nutrients they need every day not only supports their overall wellbeing but can help establish healthy habits that they’ll hopefully carry with them for years to come. Talk to your child’s doctor or healthcare provider to see if one of our vitamins for kids is right for your child.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information. 

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. “Recommendations released on prevention, management of rickets.”  2017. Accessed on: October 8, 2021. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2017/02/10/Rickets021017
  2. Holick MF, et al. Endocrine Society. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jul;96(7):1911-30.
  3. Eat Right. “Does My Child Need A Supplement?” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2021. Accessed on: October 8, 2021. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/dietary-supplements/does-my-child-need-a-supplement
  4. National Institutes of Health. “Nutrient Recommendations: DRI.” Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Accessed on: October 8, 2021. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf
  6. Ahluwalia N, et al. Usual nutrient intakes of US infants and toddlers generally meet or exceed Dietary Reference Intakes: findings from NHANES 2009-2012. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(4):1167-1174