Nutrition

What Nutrients Does Your Growing Child Need for Healthy Development?

January 19, 2022

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You know your child needs to be getting enough vitamins to grow into a healthy adult. But there’s a good chance you don’t know which ones are most important for your kiddo to get on a daily basis or what they actually do for their health. 

A question I get a lot from parents is: “What vitamins does my child need most?” 

When I work 1:1 with kids, I recommend different supplements based on their individual needs. But there’s a handful of key nutrients that all kids need for healthy development. 

Let’s take a look at 7 essential nutrients, how much your child should be getting daily, and where to find them. 

Before we dive in – please note that I recommend visiting your trusted pediatrician and getting a blood test to check your child’s levels before taking supplements regularly. Getting too much of one vitamin may be just as harmful as not getting enough. 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s involved in many essential processes in the body. This includes repairing tissue and bone, promoting cell growth and development, supporting the immune system, and perhaps most importantly, maintaining good eyesight. (1)

Giving your child a vitamin A supplement can be particularly useful if your child is fighting off an infection. 

Here’s the recommended daily intake for vitamin A by age:

0-3 years: 600 mcg

4-8 years: 900 mcg

9-13 years: 1,700 mcg

14-18 years: 2,800 mcg

Some of the best food sources of vitamin A include:

  • Beef liver 
  • Sweet potato
  • Spinach 

When you give your kiddo vitamin A, you can be confident that you’re strengthening their overall health.

All the B Vitamins

B vitamins are a group of 8 nutrients – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 – that play a different role in supporting the body. 

Collective benefits include promoting your child’s…

  • level of energy
  • detoxification 
  • brain development 
  • red blood cell production 
  • & metabolism. (2) 

Daily requirements for vitamin B range from (3):

  • 2-8 mg in children less than 8 years old
  • 12-14mg in children ages 8+

Some of the best food sources of vitamin B include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Cheese
  • Eggs

It’s always a good idea to try to get vitamins from food sources in addition to supplements. That way, you know your child is getting the health benefits from all the B’s even when changes in plans lead to less than ideal food choices. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C does more than protect your child from getting sick, although that’s surely a huge benefit! This power nutrient acts as an antioxidant in the body, helping to protect the body’s cells from damage caused by pollutants. It also plays a role in collagen production, which protects your child’s joints and helps their skin heal if they get a cut. (4)

Here’s the recommended daily intake for vitamin C by age:

0-6 months: 40 mg

7-12 months: 50 mg

1-3 years: 15 mg

4-8 years: 25 mg

9-13 years: 45 mg

14-18 years (boys): 75 mg

14-18 years (girls): 65 mg

Some of the best food sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits – orange, lemon, grapefruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Red and green peppers

Vitamin C protects the body – make sure your child is getting enough daily! 

Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in over 600 different reactions in the body. Yes, 600! 

Some of which include…

  • helping convert food into energy
  • muscle function
  • & building bones. (5)

Picky eaters are especially prone to being deficient in magnesium. This essential nutrient is found mostly in fibrous foods, like nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetables.

Here’s the recommended daily intake for magnesium by age (6):

0-6 months: 30 mg

7-12 months: 75 mg

1-3 years: 80 mg

4-8 years: 130 mg

9-13 years: 240 mg

14-18 years (boys): 410 mg

14-18 years (girls): 360 mg

Some of the best food sources of magnesium include:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Cashews

Serving your little one some toast with almond butter – or a seed butter if they have a nut allergy – is a great way to get some magnesium in their diet each day.

Zinc

Zinc is another one of those powerhouse nutrients that has many benefits for growing children.  

Zinc is instrumental in various aspects of metabolism. It’s involved in…

  • healing cuts and wounds
  • the immune system 
  • sense of tastes and smell (7)

Because our bodies can’t store zinc from day to day, it is important to provide a daily source of zinc.

Here’s the recommended daily intake for zinc by age:

0-6 months: 2 mg

7-12 months: 3 mg

1-3 years: 3 mg

4-8 years: 5 mg

9-13 years: 8 mg

14-18 years (boys): 11mg

14-18 years (girls) 9 mg 

Some of the best food sources of Zinc include:

  • Whole grains
  • Chickpeas and lentils
  • Nuts, especially cashews and almonds

Since Zinc plays a role in cell growth, it’s essential for growing bodies. Include whole grains and beans in your family meals so you don’t miss this important nutrient!

EFA’s

What the heck are EFA’s? Essential fatty acids. I’m sure you’ve heard of omega-6 and omega-3?  

Well, they are essential because they’re important for…

  • brain function
  • vision
  • heart health
  • cellular growth
  • & the immune system. (8)

Our bodies can’t create essential fatty acids on their own, so it’s super important that we get them from our diet. 

Here’s the recommended daily intake for EFA’s by age:

Ages 1-3 years: 

7,000 mg, or 7 grams, of omega-6 daily

700 mg, or 0.7 grams, of omega-3 daily 

Ages 4-8 years:

10,000 mg, or 10 grams of omega-6

900 mg, or 0.9 grams, of omega-3

Some of the best food sources of EFA’s are:  

  • Salmon
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Kale

It’s easier to get omega-6 into your child’s diet, so focus on getting your child omega-3’s! 

For Parents with Picky Eaters…

It will be tough for your child to get all the nutrients they need through diet alone. I’ve also seen hundreds of lab results that show deficiencies in non-picky eaters who live in the most health-conscious households. 

For this reason, I recommend giving your child a daily multivitamin and taking additional supplements when necessary. I recommend SuperNutes chewable multivitamin by Ortho Molecular. 

You should also check out this post on how to feed picky eaters for some tried-and-true strategies.

The Takeaway 

Your child needs to be getting their proper dosage of these nutrients every single day to grow into healthy adults. 

So, here’s what I suggest: Feed your child a nutrient-dense diet with the largest variety of vegetables that you can muster. Then, give them a multivitamin as a safety net. 

The next step is to visit your pediatrician to have their blood tested for vitamin levels so you can be sure they’re getting a healthy amount. 

Need to stock your vitamin cabinet? Pop over to my online shop to order all of the vitamins – including the SuperNutes multivitamin – listed in this article that your child needs most! 

Resources:

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/ 
  2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vitamin-b 
  3. https://www.pediatriconcall.com/articles/nutrition/vitamin-b-complex/vitamin-b-complex-patient-education
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/ 
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25540137/
  6. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/ 
  7. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
  8. https://www.babycenter.com/toddler/feeding/essential-fatty-acids-in-your-childs-diet_10324690
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Wife, Mama of Three, Nature-Enthusiast, Believer, Tea Connoisseur & Colorado Springs Native 

Hi, I'm Dr. Lindsay –
I empower families to question the status quo & raise healthy kids, naturally.

As a mother of three, I know what it’s like to leave the doctor’s office feeling scared, ignored & misunderstood. I’m committed to listening deeply & honoring your role as the parent or caregiver because I believe you know best when it comes to your child. 

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