It’s a good thing that today’s vitamin and mineral supplements come in pill, powder, liquid and chewable forms to make it easy for people of all ages to take them.
No more excuses for not taking your daily multivitamin. Here’s a recap of suggested supplements for each age group in the family – from infant to mom!
Breastfed babies get all the nutrients they need from mother’s milk except for one – vitamin D. In fact, breastfed babies are most at risk for vitamin D deficiency which they need for healthy bones and teeth. Although exposing skin to sunlight is a good way for babies and kids to get a healthy dose of vitamin D, living in Canada isn’t going to cut it.
Administering vitamin D to babies is quick and easy. Simply measure the recommended dose and drop directly into the mouth or add to food or beverages for older children. Breastfed babies should get 400 IU (international units) a day starting a few days after birth.
Health Canada recommends that all breast fed or partially breast fed, healthy, full-term babies get a vitamin D supplement every day until their first birthday. Infant formula already contains vitamin D so extra supplementation isn’t necessary.
Oh, the diet of a two-year-old. Either you’re one of those lucky moms whose child eats everything on his plate with gusto or you’re tearing your hair out in frustration because your picky eater is turning his head away every time a fork full of food comes near him.
According to a Canadian Community Health Survey on nutrition, 70 percent of kids between the ages of four and eight do not eat the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables. The same survey found that one third of children between ages four and nine don’t get the recommended two daily servings of milk products, leaving them calcium and vitamin D deprived. While we try as hard as we can to get the Canada Food Guide amounts of nutrients into our kids, it doesn’t always happen. Supplements are like extra insurance when it comes to our children’s health. Many of them don’t contain the full amount of recommended vitamins and minerals anyway and are meant to be a fill-in for gaps in a child’s diet. Watch that the multivitamins you give your kids aren’t full of sugar and are sweetened instead with natural sugars like Stevia. Keep them out of reach of little hands, too.
A fun and easy way to make sure your kids aren’t missing any important vitamins and minerals is to give them a great tasting vitamin-fortified shake that they can chug down on their way to school or on the sports field. No forcing a chewable vitamin on them every day.
By the time kids reach their teenage years, they may turn into the opposite of picky eaters. In fact, they might take in more food than they can burn off and gravitate more towards high sugar, fatty foods than fresh fruits and vegetables. Teens’ bodies are growing at a rapid rate and they need the right vitamins and minerals to support their growth and development.
For teen boys, vitamins A for growth and E for antioxidant protection are key. Of course, calcium and vitamin D are still crucial for supporting bone strength and growth. Vitamin C for healthy bones, teeth and especially cartilage formation to support all the physical demands teenage boys subject themselves to. B vitamins are important for helping food turn into energy and we all know how much food young guys eat and how much energy they need!
For teen girls, the allure of fast food and the blended coffee drink culture can add up to a lot of sugar and empty calories. As with the boys, vitamins A, E, C, D, calcium and the full spectrum of B’s are important. Teen girls need iron once they start menstruating. Studies have shown that girls between the ages of 13 and 17 barely meet the daily required 15mg of iron.
The teen years are a time when a lot of adolescents experiment with vegetarianism or veganism. A daily multivitamin that contains at least 25 mcg of B12 (or can take separately) is recommended.
And now for your needs. In order to cover all the bases, choose a multivitamin that provides (not exceeds) the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for the vitamins and minerals contained. Women of child-bearing age need a multivitamin that contains 16 to 20 mg iron and 400 mcg of folic acid if planning to get pregnant.
Food should be your primary source when it comes to getting your daily vitamin and mineral requirements met. But if you feel that you can’t always max out your RDAs naturally, a good quality multivitamin is a smart back-up.