Vitamins and Supplements can either be a Godsend or a Hellhound. Why do I say that? Because out of the hundreds of possible vitamins out there, finding the right one(s) can be quite daunting. Add in the emphasis of eating properly, getting enough exercise, and reducing stress, knowing which vitamins and supplements your body really needs can become more of a chore rather than a necessity.
It used to be that eating the right kinds of food on a daily basis were all we needed to fortify our body and keep it healthy and strong. But that was back in the days when junk food wasn’t very prominent and produce weren’t grown with harmful chemicals and genetically engineered. Now, in the days of fast food, high stress jobs, and demanding family life, we don’t always get to eat the right foods every day. Experts agree that certain vitamins will essentially supplement what your body lacks or is depleted of. But there are also others who say that vitamins and supplements are just a “trend”. Regardless of what you believe in, you know your body best and if you can’t have those full servings of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and so forth on a daily basis, chances are your body and health is greatly affected in a not so positive way.
Below is a chart of important vitamins and supplements that are recommended for children ages 1-18 years old. Please note that this is just a guideline and if you have any questions please consult a health professional.
Fat-Soluble Vitamins (nutrients that are stored in the liver for weeks and distributed to body tissues as needed):
A- Antioxidant needed for eye and skin health. Can be found in fish liver oil; manufactured in the body from brightly
colored fruits and veggies. Ages: 1-3 yr 300 micrograms (mcg): 4-8 yr 400 mcg: 9-13yr 600 mcg: 14-18yr 900 mcg (M) 700 mcg(F)
D- Controls calcium levels; critical for bone and tooth development. Can be found in cod liver oil, fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified dairy products. Ages: 1-18 yr 600 International Units (IU) (15 mcg)
E (d-Alpha Tocopheral) – Antioxidant involved in immune function and anti-inflammatory processes. Can be found in wheat germ oil, almonds and other nuts, cold-pressed vegetable oils. Ages: 1-3 yr 6 milligrams (mg): 4-8yr 7 mg: 9-13yr 11 mg: 14-18yr 15 mg
K – Helps with blood clotting and bone formation and repair. Can be found in cruciferous and leafy green vegetables. Ages: 1-3 yr 30 mcg: 4-8yr 55 mcg: 9-13yr 60 mcg: 14-18yr 75 mcg
Water-Soluble Vitamins (nutrients that are generally metabolized and leave the body in the same day of use or even within a few hours of consumption):
B1 (Thiamine) – Enhances brain function, circulation, digestion, and energy production. Can be found in Brewer’s yeast, dairy, egg yolks, wheat germ, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds. Ages: 1-3 yr 0.5 mg: 4-8yr 0.6 mg: 9-13yr 0.9 mg: 14-18yr 1.2 mg (M) 1 mg (F)
B2 (Riboflavin) – Essential to antibody production, generation of energy, and tissue respiration; reduces effects of stress. Can be found in almonds, brewer’s yeast, meats, milk, soybeans. Ages: 1-3 yr 0.5 mg: 4-8yr 0.6 mg: 9-13yr 0.9 mg: 14-18yr 1.3 mg (M) 1 mg (F)
B3 (Niacin) – Essential for healthy circulation, skin, and nerves; important for converting food to energy. Can be found in beef liver, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, carrots, eggs, fish, nuts, wheat germ, whole wheat. Ages: 1-3 yr 6 mg: 4-8yr 8 mg: 9-13yr 12 mg: 14-18yr 16 mg (M) 14 mg (F)
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – Fights stress; enhances stamina. Can be found in Brewer’s yeast, eggs, legumes, mushrooms, organ meats, royal jelly, whole wheat. Ages: 1-3 yr 2 mg: 4-8yr 3 mg: 9-13yr 4 mg: 14-18yr 5 mg
B6 – Promotes red blood cell formation; important in sodium-potassium balance, metabolism and immune function. Can be found in bananas, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, organ meats, pork, potatoes, sunflower seeds, whole-grain cereals. Ages: 1-3 yr 0.5 mg: 4-8yr 0.6 mg: 9-13yr 1 mg: 14-18yr 1.3 mg (M) 1.2 mg (F)
B9 (Folate/Folic Acid) – Important in genetic, metabolic, and nervous system processes; needed for healthy red blood cells. Can be found in asparagus, black-eyed peas, brewer’s yeast, fortified grains, leafy greens, lentils, lima beans, rice germ, spinach. Ages: 1-3 yr 150 mcg: 4-8yr 200 mcg: 9-13yr 300 mcg: 14-18yr 400 mcg
B12 – Prevents anemia; needed for cell formation, digestion, absorption of food, and metabolism. Can be found in Brewer’s yeast, clams, dairy, eggs, fish, organ meats, sea vegetables, soy, fortified cereals. Ages: 1-3 yr 0.9 mcg: 4-8yr 1.2 mcg: 9-13yr 1.8 mcg: 14-18yr 2.4 mcg
Biotin – Needed for synthesis and utilization of amino acids and fats; supports healthy hair, nails, and skin. Can be found in Brewer’s yeast, fruits, milk, rice bran, vegetables, nuts. Ages: 1-3 yr 8 mcg: 4-8yr 12 mcg: 9-13yr 20 mcg: 14-18yr 25 mcg
C – Antioxidant needed for many different metabolic functions in the body, including tissue growth and repair and anti-inflammatory action. Can be found in berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, cauliflower, winter squash, asparagus. Ages: 1-3 yr 15 mg: 4-8yr 25 mg: 9-13yr 45 mg:14-18yr 75 mg (M) 65 mg (F)
Calcium – Essential for strong bones and teeth, healthy gums, and muscle function. Can be found in dairy (and fortified substitutes), leafy greens, sardines. Ages: 1-3 yr 700 mg: 4-8yr 1,000 mg: 9-18yr 1,300 mg
Copper – Aids in red blood cell, bone, and collagen formation. Can be found in almonds, avocados, legumes, broccoli, oats,
seafood, soybeans. Ages: 1-3 yr 340 mcg: 4-8yr 440 mcg: 9-13yr 700 mcg:14-18yr 890 mcg
Iron – Essential to blood cell production, normal growth and development, and immune health. Can be found in eggs, fish, liver, meat, leafy vegetables, whole grains. Ages: 1-3 yr 7 mg: 4-8yr 10 mg: 9-13yr 8 mg: 14-18yr 11 mg (M) 15 mg (F)
Magnesium – Vital for enzyme activity and energy production. Can be found in dairy, fish, leafy greens, meat, seafood. Ages: 1-3 yr 80 mg: 4-8yr 130 mg: 9-13yr 240 mg: 14-18yr 410 mg (M) 360 mg (F)
Manganese – Needed for fat and protein metabolism, energy production, healthy nerves, and immune system. Can be found in avocados, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, whole grains. Ages: 1-3 yr 1.2 mg: 4-8yy 1.5 mg: 9-13yr 1.9 mg (M) 1.6 mg (F): 14-18yr 2.2 mg (M) 1.6 mg (F)
Selenium – Important for thyroid gland function. Can be found in brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, brown rice, seafood, meat, whole grains. Ages: 1-3 yr 20 mcg: 4-8yr 30 mcg: 9-13yr 40 mcg: 14-18yr 55 mcg
Zinc – Important in immune health; deficiency results in loss of senses of smell and taste. Can be found in brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, legumes, seafood, sea vegetables, whole grains. Ages: 1-3 yr 3 mg: 4-8yr 5 mg: 9-13yr 8 mg: 14-18yr 11 mg (M) 9 mg (F)
So whether you take a multi-vitamin or single supplements, remember to always check the dosage amount and try to take them around the same time each day. Children are more susceptible to the results of vitamins and supplements so if there are any doubts, be sure to consult a health professional. I give my son a multi-vitamin drink almost every day as he does eat a pretty balanced diet. But the one supplement I insist on giving him daily is his Omega 3’s, which is important for a growing mind and body.
For more information and for an illustrated chart, please visit the Taste For Life website: http://www.tasteforlife.com/. On there you can also find an updated Adult Nutrition Chart.
*Photo courtesy of TasteforLife magazine. Sources courtesy of TasteforLife magazine.
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