Pediatrics: Children's Multivitamins and Mineral Supplements

There are many OTC products to keep children healthy.


Multivitamin/mineral (MVM) nutritional supplements are very popular among all age groups. Although the optimal means of obtaining essential vitamins and nutrients for individuals of all ages, especially children, is through a balanced and nutritious diet, many parents and caregivers turn to the host of nutritional supplements formulated specifically for children to ensure that these needs are met. Statistics show that an estimated one-third of US children take some form of vitamin and/or mineral supplement. These supplements are available in a variety of dosage forms, including flavored chewables, gummies, gumballs, and liquid formulations. In addition, MVM formulations are available to meet the nutritional needs of specific age groups within the pediatric patient population. Specialty supplements are even formulated to promote immune health, support bone health, and provide energy and brain support.

Does My Child Need a Multivitamin?

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association emphasize that eating a balanced, nutritious diet is the best possible method for children to obtain essential nutrients. Before giving your child an MVM supplement, you should discuss the matter with your pediatrician or pharmacist to determine whether such a supplement is necessary. Pediatricians may recommend a daily MVM supplement for the following groups of children:

  • Children who do not eat a regular, balanced diet that includes foods from a variety of food groups
  • Children with a poor appetite
  • Children who have a restrictive diet, such as a vegetarian or dairyfree diet
  • Children with chronic medical conditions
  • Children who are underweight

More and more children are taking prescription medications to treat various conditions such as asthma, diabetes, allergies, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. If your child is taking any other medications, it is important to talk to your pediatrician or pharmacist about MVM supplements to avoid potential drug—nutrient interactions or contraindications.

Important Tips Regarding Safe Use of Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements

  • As with all medications, MVM supplements should always be kept out of reach of children to prevent accidental overdose, especially because many of these supplements can easily be mistaken for candy.
  • Excessive doses of MVM supplements, especially fat-soluble vitamins, can cause toxicities. Always remember to give children only the MVM formulations that are marketed for use in children and to administer only the recommended dose.
  • Always read the label before giving your child any medication or supplement, including MVM supplements, and check for expiration dates.
  • Store MVM supplements in a cool, dry place.
  • Remember that MVM supplements are intended for use as an adjunct to eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet; they are not intended as a substitute for eating a healthy variety of foods consisting of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • MVM supplements are intended to prevent nutritional deficiencies and to maintain nutritional stores; they are not intended for the self-treatment of vitamin deficiencies. If your child is exhibiting signs of nutritional deficiencies, see your pediatrician immediately.
  • If you are unsure whether your child requires supplementation, discuss the use of MVM supplements with your pediatrician to determine how best to meet your child’s nutritional needs.
  • Never give a child more than the recommended amount of MVM supplements. If taken in excessive amounts, the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K, and E) in particular can be harmful.

Resources for Patients

  • Kids Eat Right
  • Nemours Foundation

Resources for Health Care Professionals

  • The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
  • US Food and Drug Administration
  • American Academy of Pediatrics

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