In the Parenthood

Do kids really need a multivitamin?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  April 15, 2010 08:56 AM

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When I was a kid, my parents doled out a garishly colored chewable multivitamin to my brothers and me each morning. They tasted like fruity chalk and we all fought over who got the purple or orange ones, which were infintely more palatable than the dusty-looking pink tablets.

Now, I'm the parent, and I dole out a garishly colored chewable multivitamin to my kids each morning. They, too, taste like fruity chalk and my kids fight over the purple ones. I could give them gummy bear-shaped ones instead, but those look too much like candy to me -- I have visions of my kids sneaking off to down an entire bottle, thinking they're treats.

I was thinking about this the other morning, white plastic vitamin bottle in hand, and I wondered: Do kids really need a multivitamin at all?

While the American Academy of Pediatrics does not officially recommend a daily multivitamin for children, they do recommend at 400 IU of vitamin D a day for children who don't drink milk and also 5 to 10 mg of iron for babies who are not breast-fed. And, as Dr. Sanja Gupta points out at CNN.com, "Although a daily multivitamin might not be offering your child a tremendous amount of benefit, it certainly is not hurting them."

"I'd say there's some places where multivitamins are very appropriate for children," Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, a physician and former midwife who is a faculty member at the University of Arizona, told me during a recent teleconference on dietary supplements. "It depends on the child itself, the risks they have, their own diet. Breast-fed kids may need to take supplemental iron."

Ideally, children will get the nutrients they need from their diet. But every child -- and every family's situation -- is different. Also: picky eaters abound.

Read the rest here...
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about the author

Lylah M. Alphonse
Lylah M. Alphonse is a member of the Globe Magazine staff and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling a full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day, and about everything else at Write. Edit. Repeat. When she's not glued to the computer or solving a kid-related crisis, she's in the kitchen or, occasionally, asleep.

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