Vitamins vs. Minerals and What Kids Need
Vitamins and minerals are often grouped together in our understanding of nutritional needs. While they are required for healthy, balanced development, they are different. For children, there are certainly specific vitamins and minerals they need to balanced development.
Here’s a quick definition of these two items:
- Vitamins are organic. They can be broken down by air, heat or acid.
- Minerals are inorganic. That means they hold their chemical structure so they easily find their way into our bodies when we consume certain plants, animals and fluids.
There is a long list of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, but only in small amounts. This is why you may hear these two materials referred to as “micronutrients”. With the right balance, our bodies reap substantial benefits, such as strong bones and healthy teeth.
For developing children, proper vitamin and mineral ingestion is a critical part of helping them stay on track as they grow.
Essential Vitamins for Kids
- Vitamin A. Good sources of Vitamin A can be found in yellow-to-orange veggies like carrots, yams and squash. Vitamin A promotes tissue and bone repair as well as normal growth and development. Our bodies also need it for building a strong immune system and keeping skin and eyes healthy.
- Vitamin Bs. There are several family members in the Vitamin B category: B2, B3, B6 and B12. These vitamins are necessary for energy production and for healthy circulatory and nervous systems. They also aid in metabolism and help build healthy muscles and skin.
- Vitamin D. This vitamin is necessary for bone and tooth formation because they help our bodies absorb calcium. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight, but it can be found in milk, cheese, egg yolks and fatty fishes like salmon.
Important Minerals for Kids
- Iron is a mineral essential to healthy red blood cell production, and it helps build muscle. Iron deficiencies can develop in adolescence, so maintaining a diet with adequate iron intake (think red meats, spinach, beans and turkey) is important.
- This is a very familiar one for all of us. As a child grows, calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. Find it in milk, cheese, yogurt and even some orange juices are fortified with calcium!
- Potassium is important to keep your little surfers muscles and nervous system functioning properly. We can easily find potassium in bananas, tomatoes and citrus fruits.
- Zinc is another important mineral for building a strong immune system. When we have enough zinc, cell growth functions well and we are able to heal wounds (like cuts) more easily and with less risk of infection.
Foods are the Best Source
The best way to ingest vitamins and minerals is through a balanced, healthy diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, multivitamins are not necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally. There is a risk of overdoing the levels of these materials, so megadoses of vitamins and minerals should be avoided unless you are working under a doctor’s supervision.
If you are concerned your child isn’t getting enough vitamins or minerals in their diet, talk with your pediatrician. Multivitamins can be helpful if your child has a delay in physical and development grown, has chronic illness or food allergies or is on a restrictive diet (such as vegan). Your child is likely taking in more vitamins and minerals than you think!
Smile Surfers Pediatric Dentists
If you have any questions about how to care for your child’s teeth, vitamins, minerals, or other dentistry-related questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our board-certified pediatric dentists!
Two locations to serve you:
Richland: (509) 946-9999 www.Richland.SmileSurfers.com
Sumner: (253) 833-5137 www.Sumner.SmileSurfers.com