Does Your Child Need a Dietary Supplement?

Do you take vitamins, minerals, or herbal products? If so, you’re not alone—about half of U.S. adults take some sort of supplement. You may be surprised to learn, however, that children are now taking more supplements as well—a recent report found that about a third of kids may be taking these products.

Supplements can run the gamut from multivitamins to probiotics and herbs like St. John’s wort. But your child likely doesn’t need a supplement—a healthy, varied diet should provide all the vitamins and minerals your child needs.

If your child has a limited diet, however, or you’re concerned about him or her getting the necessary nutrients, talk with your pediatrician about whether a multivitamin is a good idea. Some children may benefit from supplementation—for example, some infants may need a vitamin D or iron supplement. But because supplements can cause side effects in children or interact with other medications, talk with your child’s pediatrician about risks and benefits before you make this decision.

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