Guide to Vitamins

Any nutritional expert will tell you that the best way for your children to get all of the daily nutrients they need is to eat a balanced diet.

Of course, with picky eaters and time constraints squeezing down our meals, this is easier said than done.

A great way to ensure that your child gets necessary vitamins is to look into supplements. These often come as chewable tablets, tablets, and liquids, so there is a type to suit every taste.

Before embarking on any new supplement plan, consult your GP for advice on the proper dosages for your child.

But even before you make your appointment, familiarise yourself with common vitamins and why each is necessary for your child’s growth.

Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene) Vitamin A is responsible for the growth and repair of body tissues including the eyes, and helps strengthen the immune system. In food, Vitamin A can be found in milk and eggs as well as spinach and other leafy greens.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Vitamin B1 helps both the growth and toning of muscles, as well as promotes nerve functions. A diet that includes whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts will deliver natural doses of Vitamin B1.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Vitamin B2 assists in red blood cell health and the creation of hormones within the body. Some studies have also shown that higher doses of Vitamin B2 may help prevent migraine headaches.

Green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, as well as meats and whole grains will help deliver Vitamin B2.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Vitamin B3 multi tasks it not only aids digestion and energy release, but also assists in nerve function and blood circulation. Chicken, fish, whole grains and beans will help deliver this important vitamin.

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) This lesser known vitamin is useful for the body’s production of hormones, Vitamin D and red blood cells. Unusually, it is found in most foods!

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) This well publicised vitamin helps keep red blood cells healthy, but also maintains nerve functions, aids the immune system and helps prevent heart disease. Chicken, fish, pork and eggs are great sources of Vitamin B6.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid, Folate) Vitamin B9, more commonly known as Folic Acid or Folate, is necessary for the production of cells within the body as it helps “protect” DNA during replication.

Without Folate, DNA could change during replication and lead to cancer. Leafy vegetables, beans and peas are all brilliant sources of Folate.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Much like its superstar counterpart, B6, Vitamin B12 also helps keep red blood cells healthy, maintains nerve functions, aids the immune system and helps prevent heart disease.

Beef, fish, chicken and dairy products all contain B12.

Vitamin C The shining star of vitamins! Vitamin C is often tagged as helping to boost the immune system, but it is also considered a wonder vitamin because of its abilities to maintain red blood cells and blood vessel health, assisting in building connective tissues, helping to heal cuts and scrapes, and promoting healthy skin, gums, teeth and bones.

Citrus fruits and juices, peppers, dark green vegetables as well as tomatoes and potatoes are all stellar sources of Vitamin C.

Vitamin D This strengthening vitamin promotes strong bones and teeth. Milk, eggs and fish all deliver doses of Vitamin D.

Vitamin E Vitamin E is useful for red blood cell health and protecting lung tissue from pollution. It also works at a cellular level to protect membranes and aid in cellular respiration. Vegetable oil, green vegetables, seeds, nuts, apples and carrots all contain Vitamin E.

Vitamin H (Vitamin B7, Biotin) Vitamin H, also categorized as Vitamin B7, is most commonly known as Biotin and is one of the least well known vitamins.

Biotin is responsible for energy production, the synthesis of fatty acids and supporting the nervous system. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes healthy hair and nails.

Dairy products, some seafood, egg yolks and yeast are all sources of Biotin.

Vitamin K Vitamin K is necessary for helping blood clot properly. Green vegetables, dairy products, meats, fruits and vegetables all contain Vitamin K.

Some cereals may also be a Vitamin K source, so read the packaging carefully.

Multivitamins Over the counter multivitamins are a fantastic source of daily vitamin (and often mineral and herbal) needs all in one handy tablet.

Many specialty multivitamins are available that will appeal to children due to their chewable form, cartoon character design, or nifty flavours.

Just make sure to read the “ingredients” list carefully, and be wary of any added sugar that may be the source of the fun colours or flavours.

When speaking with your GP about vitamin dosages, be aware that the daily dosages may be referred to as a “Dietary Reference Intake” or a “Recommended Daily Allowance.”

These are general guidelines, and will vary according to personal needs. Also be aware that vitamin supplements may interfere with prescribed medication, so it is imperative that you discuss any supplements you are considering with your GP.

See Also
kids preparing healthy food
Guide to Minerals
Child reaching for a strawberry
What is Five a Day?