I give my three children, age 10, 13 and 15, multivitamin supplements every day. Recently I read that an extra dose of vitamins may not be necessary and could even be harmful at that age. What do you recommend?
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients our bodies need at any age – and especially children who are still growing. They regulate bodily functions, generate energy, balance our body fluids etc., etc. They don’t have any calories and are only needed in small quantities. Overdosing on water-soluble vitamins – Vitamin C and B-Complex) is practically impossible. Excessive amounts pass through the system and are eliminated through the urine without any harm. Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), on the other hand, are stored in fat cells and can build up to toxic levels if consumed in large doses over extended periods of time. The concentrated presence of some vitamins can also interfere with the absorption of others. Other than that, your best bet is to give your kids a multivitamin/mineral supplement with no more than 100% of the recommended daily intake.
Some parents may mistakenly think that giving their kids a multivitamin pill will make up for deficiencies in their diet. As well-intended as that may be, it cannot be a substitute for an otherwise lousy diet. The best source for a sufficient supply of vitamins and minerals is always a balanced diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and protein – not pills. Of course, some kids can be fussy eaters. In such cases, vitamin supplements can indeed be helpful. My recommendation is that you continue giving your children a daily dose of multivitamin supplements as prescribed – but don’t hesitate to consult with your pediatrician if you have any lingering doubts based on the information you’re getting from elsewhere.