Getting the right amount of vitamins on a daily basis helps children grow and develop normally, both physically and cognitively. A 2009 review in “Pediatric Clinics of North America” suggests the most common vitamin deficiency among healthy children is vitamin D. Although many children meet their daily nutrition needs by eating a healthy diet, vitamin supplementation is sometimes necessary to prevent deficiencies.
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The amount of each essential nutrient your child requires each day is based on age. Recommended dietary allowances, or RDAs, exist as guidelines to help each child meet individualized nutritional needs, and are estimated to meet the needs of the majority – 97 to 98 percent – of kids in each age category. If insufficient scientific evidence is available to establish an RDA, an adequate intake, or AI, is available, according to the Institute of Medicine.
The essential vitamins – those your child needs on a daily basis – include vitamins A, C, D, E and K, choline and the B vitamins, including thiamin or B-1, riboflavin or B-2, niacin or B-3, pantothenic acid or B-5, vitamin B-6, biotin or B-7, vitamin B-12 and folate. According to the Institute of Medicine, RDAs are in place for all of these vitamins except vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin and choline, but adequate intakes exist for these essential vitamins.
RDAs for children ages 1 to 13 are 300 to 600 micrograms of vitamin A, 15 to 45 milligrams of vitamin C, 15 micrograms of vitamin D, 6 to 11 milligrams of vitamin E, 0.5 to 0.9 milligrams of thiamin, 0.5 to 0.9 milligrams of riboflavin, 6 to 12 milligrams of niacin, 0.5 to 1 milligram of vitamin B-6, 150 to 300 micrograms of folate and 0.9 to 1.8 micrograms of vitamin B-12, according to the Institute of Medicine. In general, older children require more of each essential vitamin than younger kids.
Although RDAs haven’t been established for vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin and choline, they are still essential vitamins. Adequate intakes exist for them instead of RDAs. The Institute of Medicine reports that children ages 1 to 13 require 30 to 60 micrograms of vitamin K, 2 to 4 milligrams of pantothenic acid, 8 to 20 micrograms of biotin and 200 to 375 milligrams of choline. Older children often need more of each vitamin than younger children.
Meeting Vitamin Needs
Although some pediatricians may recommend vitamin supplements, especially for picky eaters, children can meet their daily vitamin needs by eating a well-balanced diet -- including dairy foods, lean meats, legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Good sources of vitamin D -- lacking in many children's diets -- include milk, yogurt, egg yolks, fish, vitamin D-fortified orange juice and fortified breakfast cereals. Being in sunlight helps your child's body make vitamin D.