By Nicole Bando, May 13, 2021
Myriad colourful, fizzy, chewable children’s vitamins line pharmacy shelves, causing parents worry that their child may be lacking in vital nutrients. As a Paediatric Dietitian & Lactation Consultant, I am often asked ‘should I give my child a multivitamin?’ In most cases, a healthy child who is eating across the food groups does not require additional supplementation. Many foods are fortified with vitamins & minerals, so your child may be consuming more of these nutrients than first considered. There is no evidence that additional vitamin and mineral supplementation benefits health. In fact, taking an excess of certain vitamins, such as fat-soluble A, D & E can have negative health effects. Fat-soluble vitamins accumulate in the body, unlike water soluble vitamins, such as Vitamins B & C, where excess is generally filtered out through the urine (N.B. there is still potential for toxicity in large quantities). For example, excessive Vitamin A in children can cause skin irritation, vomiting & an enlarged liver.
Ultimately, the best advice is to make sure that your child is receiving enough nutrition from food & supplements cannot replace the value of whole foods. If your family could do with some guidance to make sure that everyone is maximising their nutrition potential, see a family dietitian.
In certain cases, vitamin supplements are necessary, such as:
Your dietitian or paediatrician will advise if this is the case. Products are roughly categorised into multivitamin preparations, single nutrients (e.g. iron), probiotics and then marketing categories, such as ‘immune boosting’ or ‘brain development’. Here’s a brief overview of a few popular multivitamins:
What’s the bottom line?
Unless your child fits into one of the above categories, or you have concerns that their diet may be inadequate, a multivitamin is likely not necessary. Seek professional guidance.
Rodney Whyte, Senior Pharmacist, Monash Health
NHMRC, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand
Royal Children’s Hospital, Vitamin A: https://www.rch.org.au/immigranthealth/clinical/Vitamin_A/
Dr Anthea Rhodes, RCH Paediatrician & Director, Australian Health Poll https://blogs.rch.org.au/news/2016/09/13/blog-vitamins-and-kids-do-they-really-need-them/