Do children need to take multivitamins?  Professor and family doctor Yoni Freedhoff thinks not:

So to answer the first question regarding kids and whether or not they need or benefit from taking a daily multivitamin I turned to the medical literature.

Simply put, I was unable to find a single study, not one, that would suggest a need or a benefit to giving a growing healthy child a multivitamin. Full stop.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that there can’t be benefit, just that none has ever been proven or even suggested.


I would agree that if your child is a good eater (“good” means plenty of fruits and veggies, and a lean, reliable source of protein), a multivitamin may not be necessary.  But the discussion shouldn’t end there, despite Dr. Freedhoff’s insistence.  Depending on the amount of milk a child drinks and the amount of direct sunshine a child receives, vitamin D may be deficient.  While vitamin D-deficiency rickets might be the most well-known consequence of vitamin D deficiency and bone abnormalities, less severe deficiencies of vitamin D appear to also affect health, especially the immune system.  Cole Petrochko describes a link between vitamin D deficiency and a common childhood malady:

Children with low levels of vitamin D and recurrent ear infections had a reduced risk for acute otitis media with vitamin D supplementation, researchers reported here.

Compared with children randomized to placebo, patients with recurrent acute otitis media (AOM) who received 1,000 IU daily had significantly lower risk of experiencing one or more episodes of AOM (26 incidents versus 38 incidents, P=0.03), and the risk of uncomplicated acute otitis media was markedly smaller in the vitamin D group (P<0.001), according to Susanna Esposito, MD, of the Universita degli Studi di Milano in Italy, and colleagues.


Most pediatricians in northern climates that don’t get abundant, year-round sunshine (like Pittsburgh) recommend vitamin D supplements for their patients, beginning shortly after birth. While chewable multivitamins used to be the most practical way of providing additional vitamin D to toddlers and young children, newer chewable vitamin D supplements have recently appeared on store shelves.  These products are not perfect, however, as the ingredient list of one popular brand demonstrates:

Ingredients: Sorbitol, Citric Acid, Maltodextrin, Silicon Dioxide, Stearic Acid, Corn Starch, Magnesium Stearate, Yellow 6 Lake, Modified Food Starch, Orange Juice Solids, Natural and Artificial Orange Flavor, Sucralose, Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), Red 40 Lake.



More PediaBlog on vitamin D, including recommended daily values, here.


(Yahoo! Images)