Childhood Dietary Supplements

Nutrition recommendations change throughout childhood. The best way for children and adolescents to get the nutrients (e.g., vitamins, minerals) they need for good health and proper growth and development is to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. Parents who have concerns about their child's diet should speak with his or her pediatrician or with a licensed dietician or nutritionist.

Although dietary supplements are not a substitute for health eating, they can help provide necessary nutrients. Common dietary supplements used in children include multivitamins and multiminerals, vitamin C, iron, and fluoride (if the local water supply is not fluoridated).

Over-the-counter supplements are generally safe; however, they are drugs and can be dangerous if taken in excessive amounts (e.g., vitamins A, D, E, K) or if combined with certain other medications. Always consult your pediatrician before giving your child dietary supplements.

If your child's pediatrician recommends a dietary supplement, read the label carefully and note the ingredients, the correct dosage, and the expiration date. Nutritional supplements should be USP-certified. USP (United States Pharmacopeia) certification indicates that the product is tested to meet standards for strength and purity. Store nutritional supplements according to the package directions (e.g., away from direct sunlight) and be sure to keep them out of the reach of children.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 08 Sep 2015