As parents, you would always want to give the best for your child, including complete healthy meals to allow them to grow strong and healthy. Most parents also choose to give vitamin supplements during the crucial growth years especially when the child is picky with the food, but is it worth it?
Children Need Complete Meals
If your child already eats a variety of food, then the short answer is no, because there is no better substitute to food as the primary source of vitamins and nutrients. However, if your child is picky or has feeding problems, you need to consult a pediatrician first before adding a supplement to his/her diet.
Be Wary of Supplements with Promises
Supplements that claim they can make your child smarter or disease-free are probably lying to you. After all, these are just supplements, not medication; and there are no valid proofs that can back up their claims. Be wary as well of supplements that have not been regulated and tested properly, even if the label says it’s all-natural and herbal.
Your child might have allergic reactions or intolerance to the ingredients in suspicious supplements. Some of them are known to have contaminants and are usually less well-regulated than medications, not to mention the host of side effects caused by the ingredients and their reaction to medications currently taken by the child.
Know What Your Child Lacks
Not all children lack the essential vitamins and nutrients needed for growth and development, even the picky eaters. Most of vitamin A, B, C, and E are found in most food; however, vitamin D, fiber, calcium, and omega-3s are only found in low doses in most meals according to various studies. To meet the daily nutritional needs, the pediatrician will advise you to serve more milk, soy, orange juice, cheese, yogurt, fortified eggs, fish oils, canola oil, nuts, flaxseed, high-fiber cereals, and fruits and vegetables.
Know What to Look For
Follow instructions from the pediatrician when looking for children’s supplement. Generally, you should look for products that have a clear instruction and dosage for specific ages and are packed specifically to be child-proof. Be careful when trying to self-medicate and adding more supplements other than that already recommended by the doctor, because it can lead to an overdose. Supplements, however, should never substitute healthy meals consisting of fish, whole wheat, vegetables, dairy, and fruits.
Know the Food Pyramid
To give you an idea how much vitamins and minerals your child needs during his/her growing years, follow the simple food pyramid guide recommended by most pediatricians in Singapore.
- Two or three servings of milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Two or three servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, and nuts
- Three to five servings of vegetables
- Two to four servings of fruits
- Six to eleven servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta
- Occasional treats with fats, sweets, and oils