Myth or Fact: Multivitamins make up for nutrients required by growing children

Myth or Fact: Multivitamins make up for nutrients required by growing children Cover Image

Today’s children grow up with changing interests and activities demanding the right nutrition levels at each stage. We cannot afford to disregard proper nutrition and depend solely on getting them to pop a few multivitamin pills to get there. It needs a holistic, but simple approach to this vital subject.

Making kids eat right is getting to be a challenge to mothers world over. Giving in to their attraction towards ‘unhealthy’ or ‘junk’ food seems to be an easy way out even with the knowledge that they are not getting what their body needs. Many parents reach out to a daily multivitamin tablet with the belief that these tiny pills will provide them what the diet does not.

The myth

“My child gets all the nutrients he/she needs by taking a daily dose of multivitamin tablet”

The facts

Not really intending to break that bubble, and jerk one out of one’s comfort zone, we found that it is important to share the truth that a tiny tablet cannot possibly provide substitute for a good nourishing diet.

Simply stated, no multi-vitamin has it all.

  1. Nutritional labels on supplement bottles sure do list a long set of vitamins and minerals contained in it – but the important fact to understand is that there is no guarantee that all of these nutrients will get absorbed by the body.
  2. For instance, Calcium cannot be absorbed unless there is requisite supply of Vitamin D – a vitamin which is in chronic deficiency among most of us.
  3. On one end of the spectrum, some of the listed minerals fight amongst each other for the same absorption sites, many times failing to win.
  4. On the other end, the multivites contain micronutrients in quantities way in excess of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA)- determined after considerable study of the capacity of the metabolism to absorb.

Conclusion

nutrition_chart

There is no substitute to providing kids with the nutrients they need through intake of food.

  • 2 Servings of fruits
  • 3 Servings of vegetables
  • A handful of nuts
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Dals/ pulses
  • Dairy products

A balanced diet containing all of the above provide the ideal naturally absorbable route to provide the nutrients the body needs. Any nutritional supplement, as the name implies, is meant to ‘supplement’ an otherwise healthy diet to provide a back-up of important nutrients that sometimes can be missed on a regular basis, more like a safety net.

Research has shown that, among kids, these nutrients include:

  • Bone building Calcium
  • Brain healthy Omega 3 fats
  • The sunshine Vitamin D

To meet the demands of these essential nutrients, it is essential for parents to meet a dietitian who can chart out a nutrition plan that includes adequate amounts of the important nutrients via food while recommending suitable nutritional supplements to bridge any gaps between body’s demand and what the recommended diet supplies.

Remember that taking a daily multivitamin is no nutritional insurance for good health!

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