Nutritional Deficiencies in Kids: What Vitamins Are Missing? (2023)

As a parent, it’s common to worry about different aspects of your child’s growth and development. You may ask yourself questions like: Is my child on track with important developmental milestones? Are their height and weight percentiles normal? Are they eating and sleeping enough? However, even if you answered “yes” to all of those questions, there could still be vitamins lacking in your kid’s diet that could potentially negatively affect their growth and development. While it is definitely possible for your child to obtain the right amounts of vitamins and minerals from diet alone, it’s often easier said than done. Being a parent is stressful enough, and the last thing you need is to be constantly worried about planning and tracking every single thing your child eats to make sure that they get the right amounts of various essential vitamins. Even though every child is different, children generally have the same nutritional needs, and can struggle to meet these needs for the same reasons. The good news is that there are things you can do to catch and address vitamin deficiencies in order to ensure that your child grows up happy and healthy!

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The Importance of Vitamins for Kids

While there’s no doubt that vitamins are important for everyone young and old, they are especially important for young children because children are growing and developing every single day! Vitamins are important for healthy bones, brain development, metabolism, immunity, and more. Every parent wants their child to grow up healthy, happy, and strong, and vitamins are the most important factor in this.

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The Vitamins Kids Need

We know that kids obviously need vitamins, but there are so many different ones out there, it can be hard to know which ones they actually need and at which amounts. After all, you’re not a pediatrician or dietitian! The good news is that kids need many of the same vitamins that you are probably already familiar with as an adult, albeit at different amounts. Here are some of the vitamins that your child needs and why they need them:

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  • Vitamin A: Has been shown to boost immunity, improve eyesight, and help with cell growth throughout the body
  • Vitamin C: May promote a healthy immune system by reducing illnesses and promoting growth
  • Vitamin D: Has been shown to help strengthen bones and reduce frequency of sickness
  • Vitamin E: May improve eyesight, benefit heart health, and boost immunity
  • Vitamin B12: May help with sleep, strength, and overall development
  • Calcium: Has been shown to build strong bones and help kids grow big and tall

The Vitamins Kids Struggle to Get

In an ideal world, your child would easily be able to naturally get all the vitamins and minerals that they need from their diet and environment, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, there are certain vitamins that many kids end up lacking for a variety of different reasons. Here are some of the most common vitamins lacking in kids’ diets:

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  • Vitamin D: Many children are deficient in Vitamin D. In fact, recent studies have indicated that more than 40% of children don’t get enough Vitamin D. While it might be easy for a lot of children to get enough Vitamin D, others can really struggle due to diet or lifestyle. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin,” and you can get a good dose of it by being in the sunshine for 10-15 minutes a day several times a week. However, for people who live in cold climates, experiencing very short days and extreme temperatures during the winter, it can be very challenging to get sufficient levels of Vitamin D from the sun. Even though you can also get Vitamin D from whole food sources like fish oil, mushrooms, and oranges, picky eaters and overweight children can also struggle to get enough Vitamin D from diet and environment alone.
  • Calcium: A lot of kids also struggle to get enough calcium from their diets alone. According to a study from the National Institute of Health, 80% to 90% of girls and 60% to 80% of boys aren’t getting enough calcium. Human bodies don’t naturally produce calcium, so it has to come from food alone. For children who are vegan or are lactose intolerant, it can be particularly challenging to get enough calcium in their diets. A calcium deficiency can have negative effects on a child’s bones and teeth, as their bodies will start to borrow calcium from these areas to make up for deficiencies, potentially leading to bone and teeth issues in the future.
  • Vitamin A: While a lot of children can get enough Vitamin A from their diet alone, children from resource-limited settings and children with strict dietary restrictions are more likely to have a Vitamin A deficiency. In fact, the World Health Organization has classified Vitamin A deficiency as a public health problem affecting about one-third of children ranging from infants through 5 year-olds. Vitamin A deficiencies have been shown to cause detrimental health issues like blindness and other eye problems. It may also lead to a weakened immune system and growth issues.

How to Make Sure Your Child Gets Enough Vitamins

Everyone knows that you can get vitamins and minerals from a balanced and healthy diet,but what does that actually mean? If you aren’t a dietician, you might be unfamiliar with the different components of a healthy diet-- turns out it’s more than just fruits and vegetables! Here’s a quick refresher on what makes up a balanced diet:

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  • Fruits: While it might be tempting to just give your child a glass of fruit juice and count that as a fruit for the day, that’s not necessarily the best method. The best way to obtain the nutritional benefits from fruits is to eat fruits of all different colors! While you might assume that you’re limited to only fresh fruit, you can switch it up by offering canned fruits, dried fruits, and frozen fruits in addition to fresh fruits. In these cases, make sure that the fruit products don’t contain added amounts of sugar that can actually counteract the nutritional benefits of the fruit itself.
  • Vegetables: It’s been drilled in our heads ever since we can remember, “You have to eat your vegetables in order to grow big and strong!” Turns out, our parents were right, and you should set the same guidelines for your children as well. However, this can be challenging since kids aren’t always the biggest fans of vegetables – especially green ones! In these cases, it’s always a good idea to offer a wide variety of vegetables of different colors and forms. That way, you are bound to find options that your child will actually eat without protest at the dinner table. At the same time, make sure to take note of added amounts of sodium in canned fruits as well as avoid using things like French fries and other potato products as “vegetables.”
  • Protein: Protein is extremely important for a balanced diet and the main way that you can get protein is through meat. However, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of red meat in your child’s diet as well as other processed meats. Also, if your child doesn’t eat meat, it’s still extremely important for them to get protein from other sources. Besides meat, things like beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, eggs, and peas contain protein that can help build a strong and healthy body.
  • Grains: Whole grains are a staple of a healthy diet, but that doesn’t mean you should go crazy with pastas, rice, and white bread. Instead, try to incorporate healthy whole grains into your child’s diet like whole wheat bread, quinoa, oatmeal, popcorn, and brown rice. These whole grain products should be minimally processed to ensure that they are truly healthy.
  • Dairy: Dairy is a good source of calcium and Vitamin D but you don’t need it in large amounts. Fat-free or low-fat dairy products are the best things to give your child, including milk, yogurts, and cheeses. If your child is unable to consume dairy, make sure that they get these vitamins from other sources – like a vitamin or mineral supplement.

Things to Look for in a Children’s Vitamin Supplement

Vitamins, minerals, diets, and healthy food are a lot for a busy parent to worry about every single day. Vitamin supplements are a great way to make sure that your child is getting all of the nutrients they need without the hassle of micromanaging their daily diets.However, not all kids’ multivitamins are created equally, so here are some things to remember when shopping for a vitamin supplement for your child:

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  • Find a complete vitamin that contains as much of the essential vitamins and minerals that children need every day. That way, it’s just one and done!
  • Find a vitamin that is made from real food like organic fruits and vegetables so that it’s natural and healthy with no preservatives.
  • Find a vitamin that doesn’t have any added sugar, preferable being naturally sweetened.
  • That being said, gummy vitamins might not be the best option since they often contain sugar, chemicals, and fillers that can cause cavities! Chewable vitamins from a reputable company like Hiya are a better option.
  • Finally, find a vitamin that has been developed and is backed by health care providers and scientists, based on up-to-date studies and research on children’s nutrition. That way, your child is getting everything that they need and nothing that they don’t.

*The FDA plays a specific role in regulating nutraceuticals and for all companies requires the following disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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What are the common vitamin deficiency in children? ›

The most common deficiencies are calcium, fiber, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, vitamins E, B12 and D. Below are some nutrient rich foods that can be incorporated into their diets to bridge nutritional deficiencies.

Which nutrients are most often deficient in children's diet? ›

Iron deficiency in children

Iron is an essential nutrient that helps the body make red blood cells, much like folate. Iron deficiency is the most common one in kids, and left untreated can lead to anaemia.

What vitamin is most missing? ›

50 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium. More 50 percent of the general population is vitamin D deficient, regardless of age. 90 percent of Americans of color are vitamin D deficient. Approximately 70 percent of elderly Americans are vitamin D deficient.

What vitamins are missing? ›

7 Nutrient Deficiencies That Are Incredibly Common
  • Iron deficiency. Iron is an essential mineral. ...
  • Iodine deficiency. ...
  • Vitamin D deficiency. ...
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency. ...
  • Calcium deficiency. ...
  • Vitamin A deficiency. ...
  • Magnesium deficiency.
May 21, 2019

What causes nutritional deficiency in children? ›

Any nutritional deficiency can have different causes but basic cause of nutritional deficiency includes inadequate intake, inadequate absorption and increased requirement of a nutrient which is not met.

What are 3 nutrient deficiencies that are common in children around the world? ›

Nutrient deficiencies of iron, vitamin A, folic acid and zinc are prevalent worldwide, especially in children from low income areas[1]. The lack of sufficient amounts of micronutrients affects health, function, and physical and cognitive development throughout the life cycle[1-4].

What are the 3 main nutrients of concern for children? ›

  • Protein. It builds muscles and other tissues in kids' bodies. Plus, it helps them boost their immune systems. ...
  • Iron. This nutrient helps you make red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the body, and it helps children grow. Without it, they can get anemia. ...
  • Vitamin D. This builds strong, healthy bones.
Apr 22, 2016

What are 3 common nutrition related problems during childhood? ›

Food-related problems for young children can include tooth decay, food sensitivities, and malnourishment. Also, excessive weight gain early in life can lead to obesity into adolescence and adulthood.

What is the single most important vitamin to take? ›

The role it plays in so many bodily functions and the staggering amount of people who are deficient in it makes Vitamin D the most important vitamin for your body overall, and there's a good chance that you are not getting enough. Come see the folks at The Pharmacy in Florence SC for your vitamin supplements.

Which vitamin do children around the world not get enough of? ›

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness and increases the risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea.

What 4 vitamins are extremely important? ›

The four fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are absorbed more easily by the body in the presence of dietary fat. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. The nine water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and all the B vitamins.

What 2 vitamins are not stored in the body? ›

Water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate) must dissolve in water before they can be absorbed by the body, and therefore cannot be stored. Any water-soluble vitamins unused by the body is primarily lost through urine.

What is not getting enough nutrients? ›

Malnutrition is a serious condition that happens when your diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients. It means "poor nutrition" and can refer to: undernutrition – not getting enough nutrients.

What are the 4 missing nutrients? ›

They consider these under-consumed nutrients—potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D—of public health concern because their low intake are associated with chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

What is the most forgotten nutrient? ›

Water is sometimes referred to as the forgotten nutrient. It is considered one of the most important nutrients ingested and although it is inexpensive to provide, it is often the most neglected nutrient.

What is one of the most common nutritional problems in early childhood? ›

Some toddlers have nutritional problems that can have immediate and long-term effects on their health, growth and development. Food allergies, iron deficiency, tooth decay and constipation are common in the early years.

What are 5 main nutrients kids need? ›

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that up to 15 percent of families in the U.S. may not be able to acquire adequate food to meet nutritional needs.
  • Protein. Most children in developed countries eat enough protein. ...
  • Iron. ...
  • Vitamin D. ...
  • Calcium. ...
  • Omega-3s.

What is the most important nutrient for children? ›

Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy. They help a child's body use fat and protein for building and repairing tissue. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that kids over the age of 1 consume about 130 g of carbohydrates each day.

What are the main nutrients that children need? ›

Here are our top 6 nutrients that should keep your child healthy, during all stages of growth.
  • Protein. The major building block of a cell, protein helps a child's body to break down food into energy, fight infections and carry oxygen around the body. ...
  • Fats. ...
  • Carbohydrates. ...
  • Calcium. ...
  • Iron. ...
  • Vitamin C.

What are five effects of poor nutrition in children? ›

Signs and symptoms of a poor diet

being underweight, overweight or obese. constipation or changes in bowel habits. being pale or lethargic. tooth decay.

What are 5 common nutritional problems? ›

Major nutritional problems include: 1) Maternal nutritional anemia; 2) protein energy malnutrition; 3) vitamin A deficiency; 4) lactation failure; 5) addiction to milk feeding; and 6) inadequate preparation and use of artificial milk products.

What vitamins should not be taken together? ›

What vitamins should not be taken together?
  • Magnesium and calcium. ...
  • Iron and green tea. ...
  • Vitamin C and B12. ...
  • Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. ...
  • Vitamin D, vitamin K2, and other fat-soluble vitamins. ...
  • Magnesium and vitamin D3. ...
  • Copper and zinc. ...
  • Omega-3s and vitamin E.
Oct 21, 2022

What vitamins are really necessary? ›

Vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium and vitamin C, are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly. Many people choose to take supplements but taking too much or taking them for too long could be harmful.

What vitamin should you take every morning? ›

You should take water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, B12, and B6 in the morning on an empty stomach. Take multivitamins or prenatal vitamins with a meal or snack containing fat and a glass of water.

What is the number one vitamin for kids? ›

Best Overall: SmartyPants Kids Formula Daily Gummy Multivitamin is NSF certified and approved, containing 15 essential nutrients, including vitamin D3 and K, B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and choline.

What are deficiency diseases What happens to children who do not get enough to eat? ›

Nutritional deficiencies of any kind from an early age could lead to various health problems like skin disorders, digestion problems, defective bone growth and even impacts mental and cognitive growth.

What multiple vitamin is best? ›

Best Overall: Thorne Research Basic Nutrients 2/Day is an NSF Sport Certified supplement, and covers the multivitamin bases without unnecessary herbs or enzymes found in many multivitamins on the market.

What is the most important supplement? ›

1. Multivitamin. A good quality multivitamin is one of the most important supplements for optimal health. According to the CDC, the vast majority of Americans are not able to meet their nutrient needs by diet alone.

What are the 5 most important supplements? ›

These five supplements are essential to our health and we may be lacking them through diet alone.
  • Vitamin D. Ideally you'd get all your vitamin D from the sun. ...
  • Fish oil. ...
  • B vitamins. ...
  • Probiotics. ...
  • Magnesium.

What kind of vitamins give you energy? ›

The eight B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folate and B12) provide the most energy, as they aid in cell metabolism, help the body transform carbohydrates and fats into energy and carry energy-nutrients around the body.

Which type of vitamin is easily destroyable and not stored in the body? ›

B-complex vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins that are not stored in the body and must be consumed each day. These vitamins can be easily destroyed or washed out during food storage and preparation.

What is the only nutrient your body doesn't store? ›

The water-soluble vitamins — C and the B-complex vitamins (such as vitamins B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, and folate) — dissolve in water. Your body can't store these vitamins. Any B or C vitamins that your body doesn't use travels through the bloodstream and is lost (mostly when you pee).

Which vitamin deficiencies are most likely to cause serious health problems? ›

Micronutrient deficiencies can cause several serious health issues. A lack of iron, folate and vitamins B12 and A can lead to anaemia. Anaemia is a condition in which there is a reduced number of red blood cells or haemoglobin concentration, causing fatigue, weakness, shortage of breath and dizziness.

What are the signs of poor nutrition in child? ›

Symptoms. Malnourished children may be short for their age, thin or bloated, listless and have weakened immune systems. Nutritional disorders can affect any system in the body and the senses of sight, taste and smell. They may also produce anxiety, changes in mood and other psychiatric symptoms.

What are 3 nutrients you want to get less of? ›

Saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars are nutrients listed on the label that may be associated with adverse health effects – and Americans generally consume too much of them, according to the recommended limits for these nutrients. They are identified as nutrients to get less of.

Which four mineral deficiencies are most likely to cause serious health problems? ›

What types of mineral deficiency are there?
  • Calcium deficiency. Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. ...
  • Iron deficiency. More than half of the iron in your body is in red blood cells. ...
  • Magnesium deficiency. The body needs magnesium for hundreds of chemical reactions. ...
  • Potassium deficiency. ...
  • Zinc deficiency.

Which vitamin is the most easily destroyed? ›

B-complex vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins that are not stored in the body and must be consumed each day. These vitamins can be easily destroyed or washed out during food storage and preparation.

Why is there no vitamin F? ›

And after that the vitamins were named in order of discovery, but scientists made a lot of mistakes and vitamins were reclassified. Here are “missing” F to J vitamins: Vitamin F = reclassified as the essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) Vitamin G = reclassified as B2 (riboflavin)

What is the only vitamin the body Cannot produce? ›

Vitamin C. Dietary intake of vitamin C (from food and drinks) is essential, because the human body cannot make this vitamin from other compounds.

Which of the 6 essential nutrients is the forgotten nutrient? ›

Eating a well-balanced diet will help you get all the vitamins and minerals that you need. All of them play a very important role in our overall health. Last, but not least, WATER - the forgotten nutrient.

What key nutrients do most people lack? ›

According to the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines, there are seven important nutrients in food that most Americans aren't getting in sufficient amounts:
  • Calcium.
  • Potassium.
  • Fiber.
  • Magnesium.
  • Vitamin A.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E.
May 12, 2009

Which vitamin is highly toxic? ›

Owing to their ability to accumulate in the body, fat-soluble vitamins have a higher potential for toxicity than do water-soluble vitamins. Iron-containing vitamins are the most toxic, especially in pediatric acute ingestions.

What vitamin is most likely to be toxic? ›

Fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K —are stored in the body for long periods of time, and pose a greater risk for toxicity than water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are only needed in small amounts.

What are three things that destroy vitamins? ›

Heat, light, exposure to air, cooking in water and alkalinity are all factors that can destroy vitamins. If food is not eaten within several days, freezing is the best method to retain nutrients.

Why did humans stop making vitamin C? ›

About 61 million years ago, some mammals and primates, including our human ancestors, lost the ability for this endogenous vitamin C synthesis [2]. This occurred due to the inactivation of l-gulono-lactone oxidase (GLO) gene with the consequence that the last step of the ascorbate synthesis from glucose was blocked.

Is there a vitamin K? ›

Vitamin K helps to make various proteins that are needed for blood clotting and the building of bones. Prothrombin is a vitamin K-dependent protein directly involved with blood clotting. Osteocalcin is another protein that requires vitamin K to produce healthy bone tissue.

What are the missing B vitamins? ›

The above-listed nutrients are no longer labeled vitamins, as they no longer fit the official definition of a vitamin; essential and required for normal human growth and are required to be obtained by diet because they can't be manufactured by the human body.

What is the most critical nutrient? ›

That's because water is the most important essential nutrient. It is involved in many of your body's vital functions, and it distributes other essential nutrients to your cells. Get more: The Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume about 125 ounces of water a day and women 91 ounces per day.

What is not enough vitamins called? ›

Vitamin deficiency anemia is a lack of healthy red blood cells caused by lower than usual amounts of vitamin B-12 and folate. This can happen if you don't eat enough foods containing vitamin B-12 and folate, or if your body has trouble absorbing or processing these vitamins.


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