KIDS, TWEENS, AND TEENS
Multivitamin/mineral. Because kids need so many nutrients, it’s best to choose a well-designed, whole-foods multi. Children under the age of 13 should take a formula designed for kids. Teens can take half the dose of most adult formulas. Multis don’t usually contain enough D or bone-supporting minerals, so additional supplementation is probably necessary. Additionally, menstruating girls need extra iron, around 15 mg per day.
Vitamin D. It’s critical for building strong bones and supporting immune health, and may help prevent depression during winter months. Many kids are deficient, especially since the bulk of their days during the school year are spent inside, so supplements are important. Recommended dosages range from 500 to 2,000 IU per day.
Zinc. This trace mineral is critical for growth and healthy immune function, and for sexual development at puberty. If your child doesn’t eat meat or seafood, he or she may need supplements. Recommended doses range from 4 to 11 mg of zinc per day, depending on age.
Bone supplements. If your kids and teens don’t eat dairy or lots of vegetables, make sure they get the nutrients they need for strong teeth and bones. Kids 1 to 3 need 700 mg of calcium a day; kids 4 to 8 need 1,000 mg, and those 9 and up need 1,300 mg. Look for a calcium supplement that includes these amounts, along with magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D, if your kid’s not getting enough from other sources.
Omega-3s. Especially important for kids and teens, omega- 3s may improve ADHD symptoms in kids under 12. They’re also essential for reducing diabetes risk, improving asthma symptoms, and protecting against depression. Recommended doses range from 300 to 1,000 mg per day; be sure you choose a high-quality formula that’s tested for impurities.
Probiotics. Healthy bacteria are important for gut health and immunity, and can also help reduce food sensitivities, protect against allergies and asthma, and improve immunity. For little kids, look for formulas specifically designed for younger ages; tweens and teens can take adult probiotics. Look for those with a broad spectrum of strains; typical doses range from 1 to 10 billion.