The Top 5 Vitamins Your Kids Should be Taking


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Photo courtesy of iStock

While kids who consume a well-balanced diet that includes healthy amounts of dairy, fruits, veggies, grains, protein and fats get most of the nutrients they need, vitamins are a good option for giving children’s bodies what they need when blood tests show deficiencies in certain areas.

Wanda M. Koszewski, an associate professor and chair of the human nutrition department at Winthrop University in Rock Hill,South Carolina, recommends that parents encourage kids to eat a well-balanced diet so they get the vitamins their bodies need through food. She says there's a “delicate balance between what is good and what is too much” when it comes to vitamins in pill form.

There are five vitamins in particular that a growing child should consume in sufficient amounts or supplement his or her diet with when necessary, says Tracy Owens, a board-certified sports and clinical dietitian at Triangle Nutrition Therapy in Raleigh.

“We have to choose vitamins — our bodies can’t make them, and they are important across the age spectrum,” Owens says.


Vitamin A

Vitamin A is absorbed in the presence of fat and is essential for healthy eyes and skin cell production, a well-functioning and strong immune system, and good vision. It can be found in foods like liver, carrots, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables and fortified milk.

Daily Suggested Amounts*

0-6 months: 400 micrograms
7-12 months: 500 micrograms
1-3 years: 300 micrograms
4-8 years: 400 micrograms
9-13 years: 600 micrograms
14-18 years: 700 micrograms for females, 900 micrograms
for males


Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps bodies absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Children can get the amount of vitamin D they need by consuming foods like milk and fatty fish, and by getting plenty of fresh air on sunny days, since vitamin D is absorbed through sun exposure.

Owens says breast-fed babies can get the vitamin D they need through adequate sun exposure and from their mother’s breast milk. If breast-fed babies aren’t getting enough, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends they get 400 international units of vitamin D each day through a supplement.  Babies who consume formula in place of or in addition to breast milk are already getting the recommended amount of vitamin D, since formula is already supplemented with it.

Daily Suggested Amounts*

Infants-12 months:
400 international units
12 months and older:
600 international units


Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, boosts immunity, protects cells, maintains healthy gums, heals wounds and helps make collagen — a protein that gives structure to hair, skin, nails, bones, ligaments and tendons. Vitamin C also helps bodies absorb iron, an important component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Vitamin C can be found in broccoli, potatoes, citrus foods, red peppers and tomatoes. Owens says consuming too much vitamin C, however, can cause stomach problems like diarrhea and nausea.

Daily Suggested Amounts*

0-6 months: 40 milligrams
7-12 months: 50 milligrams
1-3 years: 15 milligrams (don’t exceed 400 milligrams)
4-8 years: 25 milligrams (don’t exceed 650 milligrams)
9-13 years: 45 milligrams (don’t exceed 1200 milligrams)
14-18 years: 65 milligrams for girls, 75 milligrams for boys (don’t exceed 1800 milligrams)


Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps blood to clot and assists with ensuring proper bone health. Foods rich in vitamin K include kale, spinach, broccoli and edamame.

Daily Suggested Amounts*

0-6 months: 2 micrograms
7-12 months: 2.5 micrograms
1-3 years: 30 micrograms
4-8 years: 55 micrograms
9-13 years: 60 micrograms
14-18 years: 75 micrograms


Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals in the environment. Foods high in vitamin E include broccoli, peaches, nuts and whole-wheat products.

Daily Suggested Amounts*

0-6 months: 4 milligrams
7-12 months: 5 milligrams
1-3 years: 6 milligrams
4-8 years: 7 milligrams
9-13 years: 11 milligrams
14 years and older:
15 milligrams

If you choose to give your kids vitamins, Owens recommends bioavailability brands, which are high quality; come in a natural, nonsynthetic form; and are more likely to be digested and absorbed by your child’s body.

*Source: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements


Michele Jonczak is a Raleigh writer and mom to Holden (7), Hayes (5) and Emery (3).

 

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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
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Calling all Black tech leaders and visionaries! Are you looking to spur future collaborations, discover new business and career opportunities, and invest in this community? Join us for T.H.E. State...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Durham Convention Center
301 W Morgan St
Durham, NC  27701
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Contact Name: Tarryn Henry
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Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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The 16th Annual (Virtual) Beaver Queen Pageant, Beavers in the Stream! The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-423-1502
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
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We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
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River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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