Welcome to our new series–Alphabet Soup! The ABC’s of Vitamins. In this series, I will be covering the essential information you need to know to ensure your child is getting the vitamins he/she needs for proper growth and development. As the vitamin industry grows and its marketing campaigns emerge, many parents are left feeling unsure about what they should do about vitamins, questioning whether their child should be supplemented or not.
In this series we will discuss the role vitamins play in the growth and development of your child, the desirable food sources for each vitamin, the pros and cons of too much or too little consumption, and use of supplements. With some fundamental knowledge, you can make sure your child is getting the proper amounts of vitamins in his diet, and from the right source.
Vitamins are essential for the proper growth and development of all children, and most children have no problem meeting their nutrient needs when they eat a diet that represents all food groups. Vitamins don’t provide your child with energy (they are calorie-free), but they do help many body systems and processes function in a normal way.
There are two different classes of vitamins: fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) and water-soluble vitamins (B-complex and C). Fat-soluble vitamins require fat in the diet to be absorbed, and are also stored in the body’s fat tissue for later use. When over-consumption occurs, toxicity can result. Water-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, travel through the bloodstream and are excreted in the urine, instead of being stored. Due to this, children need to get sources of water-soluble vitamins daily.
A child’s growing body requires both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, in varying amounts, each day. Food sources of vitamins are utilized well by the body. While each food item contains different vitamins in varying amounts, a balanced diet with lots of food groups and a variety of colors is important to assuring adequate intake of all vitamins. Fruits, vegetables, dairy sources, grains, and animal products are packed with vitamins; balancing these food groups can yield a vitamin-rich diet for your child. However, for a variety of reasons, some children are unable or choose not to eat a wide variety of foods and may be short-cutting their vitamin requirements. These children may be candidates for supplementation.
Join us for this series to learn more–starting at the beginning with Vitamin A.