Most doctors only recommend adults take vitamins if there’s a known deficiency or if a person is on a certain diet, but despite that many people take them blindly. But when it comes to vitamins for kids is it’s important to be extra careful. For the most part, unless a doctor is recommending a supplement because of a known deficiency or because the child isn’t growing at a normal rate, parents don’t need to consider providing vitamins.
“For children who are growing normally, get adequate sunlight and eat a variety of foods, multivitamins are generally unnecessary,” says Dr. Brian Blank, MD, founder and family medicine physician at Ember Modern Medicine. “Several studies have shown healthy children who received supplements had excessive levels of metals like iron, zinc, copper, selenium and other vitamins in their systems. Too much of certain vitamins and minerals can be toxic for children (and adults!).”
Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the leading authority on children’s health in the United States, does not recommend multivitamins for healthy children because they can potentially be toxic. So, while in general vitamins for kids can be given starting at age two, always check with your child’s pediatrician to find out whether vitamins are appropriate. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
If you’re going to give your child a supplement, Dr. Blank suggests sticking with a pediatric multivitamin and not adding additional supplements. “Adding additional iron, for example, may result in toxicity because the individual supplements usually come in higher dosages than a general multivitamin.” He also says to look for overstated claims like a product being “a miracle cure” or anything that makes it sound like everyone should take a certain supplement. “Generally speaking, supplements are NOT for everybody and should only be used in certain situations. Personally, I like NOW Foods and Nature Made, but always ask your local pharmacist what they recommend and tend to stock.”