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What is the best multivitamin for children?

Child at a dinner table sat the wrong way on a chair and smiling
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As a parent, there’s always lots to think about when it comes to our children’s health. It’s common for our little ones to be fussy eaters who don’t clear their plates or eat fruit and veg. This is normal, and something most children grow out of, but it can mean that they struggle to get all the nutrients they need when they’re young.

If you’re worried that your child’s diet isn’t nutritious enough, it can be a good idea to give them a daily multivitamin.

Are multivitamins necessary for children?

The Department of Health recommends that children between six months and five years are given supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day. This is because lots of children fail to get these essential nutrients through diet alone.

It’s also recommended that breastfed babies are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth. Babies having over 500mls (about a pint) of infant formula don’t need a supplement, as formula milk is fortified with plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Which vitamins should my child be getting?

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps to keep the bones, teeth and muscles healthy. If children don’t get enough vitamin D they can develop rickets, which causes bone pain and weakness, bone deformities, and dental problems.

Between March and October, we can get vitamin D by being outside and having sunlight on our skin. The rest of the year, it’s important to get vitamin D through our diet and supplements. Vitamin D is found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel, red meat, egg yolks and liver. It’s also added to some spreads and breakfast cereals.

If your child is older than one, they should be getting 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D each day. If your child is under one, they should be getting 8.5 to 10 micrograms (mcg) a day. An exception is babies having over 500mls of formula milk a day as this contains vitamin D.

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps to protect the cells and maintain healthy skin, blood vessels and bones. It also helps with wound healing. Not getting enough vitamin C can lead to scurvy.

Vitamin C is found in lots of fruits and vegetables, including oranges and orange juice, kiwi fruit, peppers, strawberries, broccoli and potatoes.

If your child is between six months and five years of age, the recommendation is that they have a daily supplement containing vitamin C. An exception is babies who are having formula milk.

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Vitamin A

Vitamin A supports the immune system, and improves your vision in poor light. It also keeps the skin healthy.

You can find vitamin A in lots of foods including dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt. You can also get it in eggs and oily fish like salmon.

Foods that contain beta-carotene are a good alternative source, as the body can convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. Good sources of beta-carotene include carrots, spinach, sweet potato, mango and apricots.

If your child is between six months and five years of age, the recommendation is that they have a daily supplement containing vitamin A. An exception is babies who are having formula milk.

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What is the right age for a child to take multivitamin?

According to the Department of Health, children can be started on a multivitamin from six months. By the time they’re five, they’re probably eating a varied, balanced diet that gives them all the nutrients they need. If they’re not, there’s no harm in continuing to give them a multivitamin each day.

Is it okay to give multivitamins to children every day?

Yes. Multivitamins for children are designed to be taken every day. Just make sure you don’t give them more the recommended dosage.

How can I stop my child from taking too many vitamins?

There are some health risks associated with “overdosing” on vitamins, so make sure you take some precautions:

  • Buy a multivitamin for children from a trusted provider like LloydsPharmacy
  • Always give your child the recommended daily dose
  • Don’t double up on supplements
  • Keep vitamins in a safe space out of reach of your children

What do I need to consider when choosing a multivitamin for kids?

Vitamins for kids can come in a few different forms, including:

  • Liquid drops
  • Syrup
  • Chewable tablets
  • Powdered drink mix

It doesn’t matter which type you use, just make sure it’s right for you child, and that you’re buying one that contains all the recommended vitamins. For children over six months, that’s D, C and A. Remember: a supplement for children older than one should include 10 micrograms of vitamin D. You might see this on the pack as 10mcg or 10µg.

Before giving your child a new vitamin, read through the patient information leaflet in the pack. This will help you make sure it’s safe for your child, and that you give it to them in the correct dosage.

Get your child’s multivitamins free with Healthy Start

If you’re pregnant or have children under the age of four, and you’re on benefits, you might qualify for Healthy Start. This is a scheme by the NHS that gives parents free vouchers for food and formula, as well as free vitamins. Find out if you qualify at the Healthy Start site.

If you don’t qualify for free vitamins, you can get them from a trusted high street pharmacy like LloydsPharmacy.

References

www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/vitamins-for-children
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a