Should I give multivitamins to my preschooler?

Answer From Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.

Multivitamins aren't necessary for most healthy children who are growing normally.

Foods are the best source of nutrients. Regular meals and snacks can provide all the nutrients most preschoolers need.

While many young children are picky eaters, that doesn't necessarily mean that they have nutritional deficiencies. Many common foods — including breakfast cereal, milk and orange juice — are fortified with important nutrients, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium and iron. So your child may be getting more vitamins and minerals than you think.

Furthermore, multivitamins aren't without some risks. Megadoses of vitamins and minerals can be toxic. In addition, some vitamins and minerals can interact with medications your child may take.

Talk with your child's doctor if you're concerned about whether your child is getting the recommended level of vitamins and minerals. A multivitamin might be helpful for your child if he or she:

  • Has a delay in physical and developmental growth (failure to thrive)
  • Has certain chronic diseases or food allergies
  • Has a restrictive diet, such as a strict vegan diet

If your child's doctor recommends a multivitamin, choose one that is designed for your child's age group and doesn't provide more than 100 percent of the Daily Value of vitamins and minerals. In addition, keep multivitamins out of your child's reach and make it clear that they aren't candy.

April 13, 2018 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Add flax to your baking
  2. Are you getting enough calcium?
  3. Calcium: Building better bones
  4. Calcium
  5. Calcium supplements for men
  6. Timing calcium supplements
  7. Can low vitamin D cause high blood pressure?
  8. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  9. Dietary supplements: Skip megadoses
  10. Vitamin C and mood
  11. Eye vitamins: Can they prevent or treat glaucoma?
  12. Fiber supplements
  13. Flaxseed best when ground
  14. Flaxseed for breakfast?
  15. Ground flaxseed
  16. Heartburn medicines and B-12 deficiency
  17. Herbal supplements
  18. Integrative medicine: Different techniques, one goal
  19. Kratom and pregnancy: Not a safe mix
  20. Nutrition: Does it come in a pill?
  21. Nutrition know-how: Why whole food counts
  22. Percent Daily Value
  23. Prebiotics, probiotics and your health
  24. Prenatal vitamins
  25. Magnesium supplements
  26. Nutritional supplements
  27. Are dietary supplements right for you?
  28. Bromelain
  29. Calories and nutrients to fuel sports performance
  30. Curcumin
  31. Dietary supplements: What to know before you buy
  32. Is your dietary supplement safe?
  33. Melatonin
  34. Smart practices for healthy living
  35. Tips for staying supplement savvy
  36. What are omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil?
  37. What are probiotics?
  38. What are multivitamin/mineral dietary supplements?
  39. What is Boswellia?
  40. What is ginger?
  41. What is whey protein?
  42. Vitamin C megadoses
  43. Vitamin C: An essential nutrient
  44. Vitamin D and MS: Any connection?
  45. Vitamin D: Can it prevent Alzheimer's & dementia?
  46. Vitamin D deficiency
  47. Vitamin D: Essential with calcium
  48. Vitamin D for babies
  49. Vitamin D toxicity
  50. Vitamins for MS: Do supplements make a difference?
  51. Vitamins 101
  52. What does a 'seal of approval' mean?
  53. Wheatgrass