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Should my kids take vitamins?

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If you have picky eaters in your house – particularly the kind that are resistant to fruits or vegetables – you’re probably wondering if they’re getting all of the nutrients they need. Will vitamins help bridge the gap?

Here’s a little irony for you: If you are the kind of person who pays attention to nutrition and kids’ health, your kids probably don’t need vitamins. It’s the kids who have the poorest diets, the least amount of exercise, and whose parents have the least amount of information on the subject who need vitamins the most (and who are most likely not taking them). One recent study found that about one-third of U.S. kids take vitamins, but the kids in the poorest health who could use them the most were not among them.

Consider also the fact many foods that your kids eat are enriched with different vitamins and minerals. Your kids are probably getting more vitamins than you have accounted for. Also, it’s better for kids to get their nutrition from a food than from a pill. So if you think they might be missing something (say Vitamin D if they don’t drink enough milk), look for another food that might be rich in that vitamin (salmon or tuna for Vitamin D, for example).

If you decide that your child needs to take vitamin supplements (and/or your doctor supports the idea), look for a multivitamin that’s designed for kids. And most importantly, keep the vitamins out of reach and supervise their daily dosage carefully. Additionally you should treat the vitamins like medicine, not candy, and never let your child go above the recommended daily dosage. And while we’re on a little soapbox here, steer clear of the gummy vitamins – they can wreak havoc on your kids’ teeth, which could cancel out any other benefits they might be getting.