Nutrition plays a very important role in the overall development of infants and young children, especially in the first 24 months. Supplements for children can be really helpful if your family’s dietary practices are limited. Your toddler’s diet should include critical vitamins and minerals especially vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, vitamin A, calcium, and zinc. So if your family follows a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, it’s important to consult your child’s dietitian for an appropriate diet for your children. The normal protocol followed by all pediatricians and medical institutions includes a shot of vitamin D at the time of birth to your newborn baby. Breastmilk provides all the necessary vitamins and minerals needed by a baby for optimal growth. All infant formulas these days are also fortified with many vitamins and minerals.
Once a baby turns one year, your pediatrician will recommend an iron supplement, which is part of the normal guidelines followed all over the world for supplementation in infants.
But be cautious about how much supplement you give your baby as excessive doses can sometimes be harmful. Keep the supplement dosage as per the recommendation.
Nowadays, teenagers are amongst the largest growing population taking supplements, especially those that claim to help in muscle building, weight loss, etc. According to a national survey conducted in 2012 in the US, about one out of nine children rely on dietary supplements. But most of these bodybuilding and weight loss supplements contain harmful ingredients that are bad for their bodies and the side effects may end up messing your teen’s overall health.
Here are few things that you should know about dietary supplements for children and teens.
• Most dietary supplements claim that they are derived from natural sources, but natural doesn’t always mean safe.
• Dietary supplements are less regulated as compared to over-the-counter drugs or prescriptions.
• Various dietary supplements contain low-quality ingredients and may contain contaminants like chemicals and metals. The results of studies conducted by the “Studies of Dietary Supplements” show that the labels of some supplements are misleading.
• Some of the children end up in the emergency room every year because of unsupervised intake of dietary supplements.
• Do not confuse vaccinations with dietary supplements.
• Most body-building supplements contain hidden ingredients like steroids which can lead to liver injury, stroke, or even kidney failure.
• Supplements for weight loss is another segment that misleads their customers and can have serious side effects. They should be taken only under medical supervision.
Dietary supplements must be taken under the doctor’s supervision and your child’s dietitian’s advice. For expert advice on child nutrition and dietary supplements, contact Kanupriya Khanna, a senior Consultant Nutritionist & Dietitian and one of the best child dietitians in Delhi with over 17 years of experience in Child nutrition. She can help you to plan a balanced diet that can help your children in their overall development.