You know vitamins can help keep kids healthy, but when and how should they take these supplements for the best results? These are the answers to parents' most common questions about vitamin administration for young children.
What Vitamins Does Your Child Need?
Some of the essential nutrients for pediatric growth and development include:
- Vitamin A for a robust immune system, healthy vision, skin and bones, and physical development
- B vitamins for brain and heart health, energy, and metabolism
- Vitamin D and calcium for strong bones and teeth
- Iron for healthy red blood cells and muscle development
While kids get many of these nutrients from the foods they eat, you can ensure they have enough of the necessary vitamins and minerals with an age-appropriate multivitamin supplement.
Vitamins in the Morning
Many healthcare providers recommend making the most of vitamins by giving them to your kids in the morning. Metabolism and digestion peak during the Amours, so the body can most efficiently process and use the nutrients absorbed in the morning compared to sleeping at night. Generally, multivitamins should be taken with your child's morning meal.
B vitamins promote energy, so it makes sense for your kids to get the boost from B first. In addition, some types of B vitamins, particularly B6, can impact sleep when taken before bed. They stimulate metabolism, which kicks the body into gear when it should be slowing down. Some small studies show that Vitamin C could have a similar effect. Vitamins B and C also benefit from being taken on an empty stomach, so timing these supplements before breakfast makes sense.
Vitamins With the Right Meal
Specific vitamins should be taken with meals so your body can optimize absorption, especially vitamin D as well as A, E, and K. If your little one takes iron, magnesium, or calcium supplements, giving them it with meals can reduce the chances of a tummy ache.
Ideally, consume about a teaspoon of healthy fat such as avocado when you take these vitamins and minerals. With iron, give your child a glass of orange juice or some grapefruit to get the necessary vitamin C for absorption.
Timing Certain Vitamins Around Medications
Some vitamins can cause side effects if taken with certain medications, so the Food and Drug Administration recommends caution with nutritional supplements when your baby takes over-the-counter or prescription drugs. For example, vitamin E supplements can be dangerous if your baby has a clotting disorder that requires blood thinners.
Your child's more petite body means they metabolize vitamins, minerals, and medications differently than adults. Before giving your infant or toddler any supplement, consult a trusted healthcare provider. It's also important to be careful about taking over-the-counter products yourself, including vitamins and supplements, when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Vitamins Before Bedtime
As mentioned, slower digestion and metabolism at bedtime and beyond prevent efficient vitamin absorption overnight. However, if your pediatrician recommends vitamin E supplements for your baby, they should be given at night to promote restful sleep. If your child doesn't get enough magnesium, this mineral may also be taken at night and might help improve sleep quality.
When you decide on a time for your baby's vitamins, give your little one a full glass of water and supplements. Hydration helps the body absorb these nutrients and transport them to your little one's organs and tissues for optimal health benefits. Always keep over-the-counter products such as vitamins safely out of your child's reach.