Can Adults Take Children's Vitamins?

young girl holding capsule
A child looks at a vitamin. (Image: manaemedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Children's vitamins can provide extra nutrition and fill in the gaps in your child's diet, but they may not be best to take during adulthood unless your doctor recommends it. It is not likely to harm you if you take children's vitamins, but you might find yourself short on certain nutrients that you need during your adult years.

Needs

The needs for some types of vitamins varies according to your age. An 8-year-old child and a 30-year-old adult both need 800 mg of calcium a day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. A child of the same age only needs 4.1 mg of iron a day, compared to an adult male who needs 6 mg of iron daily. Children's vitamins are designed to provide close to the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals that children need and may not provide everything needed in adults.

Women

If you are pregnant, the American Pregnancy Association states that you need extra nutrients like folic acid, iron and calcium. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects, which often occur in the early weeks of pregnancy before you even know you are pregnant, so it is important to take vitamins that contain the nutrients you need for pregnancy if there is any chance you could become pregnant. Children's vitamins are not likely to provide the amounts of folic acid, iron or calcium that are necessary for women of childbearing age.

Considerations

According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., you may not even need to take vitamins if you eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and sources of protein like meat, fish and legumes. In fact, if you take any type of vitamin in addition to eating a balanced diet, including a children's vitamin, you may exceed the recommended intake of some vitamins and minerals and experience toxicity symptoms like nausea and headaches.

Recommendation

If you feel that your diet is not well-balanced and that you could benefit from a vitamin supplement, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you choose the best type of vitamin based on your age, gender and nutritional needs. You may only need one type of supplement instead of a multivitamin. For example, if you do not eat a lot of meat or other iron-rich foods, your doctor may recommend an iron supplement.

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