Every parent wants their child to be healthy, which explains why supplements for kids are such a huge market in Singapore.
Kids don’t always eat well, and you may want to supplement their diet with what you think they’re deficient in, but are you doing it right? We ask nutrition experts for their advice on how to buy supplements for kids safely.
Do children need vitamins and supplements for kids?
“If your little one enjoys a healthy, well-balanced diet, then he probably doesn’t need supplements,” says Lynette Goh, senior dietitian at National Healthcare Group Polyclinics.
“Supplements are only meant to ‘fill in the gaps’ if he isn’t eating well.” If Junior has a medical condition that requires him to take specific vitamins, then his paediatrician should recommend them.
(Also read: 5 ways to get children to eat healthy)
If you decide to give supplements for kids, Lynette says to give your little one a general multivitamin or mineral supplement, but make sure that it does not exceed 100 per cent of his recommended daily allowance.
The main nutrients he needs for healthy development are vitamins A, B, C and D, iron, calcium and folic acid.
Visit www.tinyurl.com/VitForKids for the exact amount he needs. Otherwise, you may wish to just give him supplements for nutrients that cannot be obtained from his diet.
(Also read: 6 healthy breakfast toast ideas for kids)
Is Junior on meds? Get the doctor’s OK
Some drugs do not interact well with certain vitamins and minerals and may, in fact, cause adverse reactions. So if your child is on medication, ask the doctor if it’s all right to give him supplements for kids, Lynette advises.
(Also read: 5 places to eat healthy quinoa dishes in Singapore)
Don’t buy into trends, and remember: “more” is not better
Just because a new supplement claims to boost your kid’s brain health or immunity, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it, says Lynette.
And ditch that “more is better” mentality – megavitamins, large doses of vitamins, or extra vitamins on top of a daily multivitamin, can be toxic. Even if Junior is sick, you shouldn’t give him extra doses in hopes that he will recover faster.
(Also read: 3 best ways to keep your children healthy)
Avoid herbal supplements
Ginkgo, St John’s Wort and other herbal supplements are not advisable for children. “There are no guarantees of strength, purity or safety of the products,” says Lynette.