The whole question of vitamins is conflicting. Do I need to give my twins vitamin supplements or will their food provide everything they need?

  • Posted by Dr. Jay Gordon

I don’t know a parent who isn’t concerned about vitamins. The fact is there are vitamins in everything we eat. However, there is a connection between food, vitamins and calories that is important to understand. For instance, when you eat a chunk of cheese, you get a lot of calories per vitamin. One the other hand, when you eat broccoli and cauliflower, you get a lot of vitamins per calorie. The better choice is obvious to me. I’d rather have my daughter eat a cup of vegetables to get her vitamins and, at the same time, she’ll stay slim by avoiding all the fat in cheese.

In the best of all worlds, every child would eat a perfectly balanced diet to get just the right amount of vitamins. There was a time when we ate much differently. We would dig roots from earth that wasn’t contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers. We’d pick fresh fruits and vegetables grown in soil that was still rich in nutrients. The diet that was adequate 50 years ago may no longer exist in this age of chemically-assisted agriculture and processed foods.

That’s why I recommend supplemental vitamins after infancy. During the first year when children are breast-feeding or taking a formula, they are getting all the vitamins they need. After the ages of 12 to 18 months, I think it’s a good idea to give a supplementary vitamin. Children who are going through growth spurts may temporarily outgrow their vitamin supply, and you can think of the supplemental vitamin as an insurance policy.

When choosing a supplemental multi-vitamin, go to a good health food store and find a formula without a lot of artificial colors or flavors. I like to recommend those which have large doses of the B vitamins, along with extra vitamin E, beta carotene, and large quantities of vitamin C. For younger children, a liquid vitamin is preferable to the chewable variety. Like other medicines, you can mix the vitamins in foods or drinks, and your child will take them without a fuss.

Vitamin B-6 & Folic Acid & Pregnancy

I’d like to point out a potential vitamin deficiency that every pregnant woman must understand. During pregnancy, it is necessary for the mother to get the RDA of folacin and vitamin B-6. Also referred to as folic acid, folacin is essential for the production of genetic material in the cells and the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells.

The lack of folic acid can cause the mother to become anemic and possibly miscarry. In the worst case scenario, the child may be born with a deformity.

Folacin is abundantly available in foods, including dark-green, leafy vegetables, fruits, and legumes. It is thought that the vitamin is lost when the foods are cooked, so as much as possible, eat the vegetables and fruits uncooked.