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Best Vitamins for Kids: Giving Your Child the Essential Vitamins They Need

Multicolour boy So what are the best vitamins for kids to consume in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle? It's vital for parents to consider the essential vitamins that children need in order to grow and nourish a healthy body. By starting to consider these things early on, parents will be able to instill in their children the importance of a healthy lifestyle that will hopefully carry on through adulthood.

If given the choice, kids would live on a steady diet of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs that's why it's up to us as parents to make sure that we're providing the best vitamins for kids when choosing their daily meals. Besides giving your child a daily multi-vitamin keep these tips in mind when label reading to make sure that they are getting all that they need from their food:

  • Calcium: Getting enough calcium is important to everyone, especially children. That's why children require at least 800 mg of calcium for children ages 4 to 8, and at least 1,300 mg of calcium for children 9 and older.
  • Iron: Many multi-vitamins do not contain iron, so be sure to supplement your child's meals with iron-rich foods to be sure they get the recommended 10 mg of iron a day.
  • Folic Acid: Important for so many reasons, including the production of red blood cells and healthy skin, hair and gums, a typical child's dose of folic acid is 75 to 150 mcg daily.
  • Vitamin C: Especially during cold and flu season, be sure to increase your child's daily intake of Vitamin C to at least 1 gram per day.
  • Vitamin D: Children's growing bones require plenty of Vitamin D, so many pediatricians recommend that children take a supplement with 800 to 1,000 IU of Vitamin D daily.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is also important for a growing child's body, but too much Vitamin A can also be toxic, therefore many pediatricians suggest increasing your child's beta carotene intake, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body.

Another trick to ensuring that your children are consuming the best vitamins for kids is to make sure that they are eating fruits and veggies in an array of colors. According to msn.com the colors represented in foods are indicators of nutritional value and different colors mean different vitamins and minerals.

Red Red-colored fruits and veggies offer an essential antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that is associated with a multitude of health benefits, including protecting the skin from sun damage and decreasing the risk of heart disease and certain forms of cancer. It's also been shown to decrease symptoms of wheezing, asthma, and shortness of breath in people when they exercise. Good red sources of lycopene include red tomatoes, bell peppers, guava, watermelon and pink grapefruit.

Orange Beta-carotene is the nutrient responsible for fruits and vegetables' dramatic orange color. Once beta-carotene is inside the body it is converted to vitamin A which contributes to immune-system health. Orange foods also help improve eyesight and night vision due to the fact that vitamin A is vital for creating the pigment in the retina responsible for vision in low-light situations. A few good orange fruits and veggies rich in beta-carotene include winter squash, oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots and cantaloupe.

Yellow Yellow foods are close relatives of orange foods and are likewise rich in carotenoids. The more common yellow carotenoid is beta-cryptoxanthin, which supplies about half the vitamin A as beta-carotene does. Studies show it decreases the likelihood for such diseases as lung cancer and arthritis. Research also shows that foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin help decrease inflammation in the joints and improve the functioning of the respiratory system. Yellow foods high in beta-cryptoxanthin are yellow bell peppers, pineapple, corn, bananas, and yellow squash.

Green Green foods are among the most abundant sources of lutein and zeaxanthin which promotes healthy vision. They're also capable of strengthening bones, muscles and brains. Green fruits and veggies get their color from chlorophyll, which studies show play an important role in stimulating the growth of new tissue and hindering the growth of bacteria. As a topical treatment, it can speed healing time by 25 percent. Green fruits and veggies high in vitamins and nutrients include avocado, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, romaine lettuce, broccoli, kale, spinach and green peas.

Blue and Purplepurple veggies Blue and purple foods get their color from the presence of flavonoids called anthocyanins. These are known to improve cardiovascular health and prevent short-term memory loss, but the deeply pigmented anthocyanins go even further. Blueberries have been found to make brain cells more responsive to incoming messages and might even spur the growth of new nerve cells. Purple and blue foods high in flavonoids include eggplant, blackberries, beets, blueberries and plums.

Here are a few suggestions for making sure that your children are consuming the best vitamins for kids. By following these tips your child will be well on their way to a healthy lifestyle.

The Scoop: Caffeine and Your Kids

iStock_000004077754XSmallMost adults start off their mornings with a big steamy cup of caffeine- oh I mean coffee- just to get moving. We wouldn't even think about passing that same steamy cup of coffee to our kids but often times we pass around sodas and other sugary drinks without a moment's pause. So how exactly does caffeine affect our kids and how much is healthy?

The United States hasn't developed official guidelines to monitor caffeine intake for our kids but recommends that we keep our kids' caffeine consumption to a minimum. Canadian guidelines recommend that preschooler get no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine per day. 45 milligrams is equivalent to the caffeine found in an average 12 ounce can of soda or one 1.5 ounce chocolate bar.

Caffeine is officially referred to in the medical community as a drug due to its stimulating effects on the nervous system. Coffee is a stimulant that affects adults and kids similarly. At low levels it can make most people feel alert and more energetic. However, if too much caffeine is consumed by an adult or a child it can cause jitteriness and nervousness, an upset stomach, headaches, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure.

Below is a compilation from kidshealth.org of other reasons it's a good idea to limit your kid's caffeine consumption:

Kids who consume one or more 12-ounce (355-milliliter) sweetened soft drink per day are 60% more likely to be obese.

Not only do caffeinated beverages contain empty calories (calories that don't provide any nutrients), but kids who fill up on them don't get the vitamins and minerals they need from healthy sources, putting them at risk for nutritional deficiencies. In particular, kids who drink too much soda (which usually starts between the third and eighth grades) may miss getting the calcium they need from milk to build strong bones and teeth.

Drinking too many sweetened caffeinated drinks could lead to dental cavities (or caries) from the high sugar content and the erosion of tooth enamel from acidity. Not convinced that sodas can wreak that much havoc on kids' teeth? Consider this: One 12-ounce (355-milliliter) non-diet, carbonated soft drink contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar (49 milliliters) and 150 calories.

Caffeine is a diuretic that causes the body to eliminate water (through urinating), which may contribute to dehydration. Whether the amount of caffeine in beverages is enough to actually cause dehydration is not clear, however. It may depend on whether the person drinking the beverage is used to caffeine and how much caffeine was consumed that day. To be on the safe side, it's wise to avoid excessive caffeine consumption in hot weather, when kids need to replace water lost through perspiration.

Abruptly stopping caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms (headaches, muscle aches, temporary depression, and irritability), especially for those who are used to consuming a lot.

Caffeine can aggravate heart problems or nervous disorders, and some kids may not be aware that they're at risk.

One thing that caffeine doesn't do is stunt growth. Although scientists once worried that caffeine could hinder growth, this isn't supported by research.

According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration kids can be exposed to caffeine in any of the following forms: coffee, tea, chocolate, coffee ice cream, frozen yogurt, pain relievers and other over-the-counter medicines. The best way to cut caffeine from your child's diet is to eliminate soda. Instead of serving your kids soda try to stick with water, milk, flavored seltzer or 100% fruit juice. It's alright to serve the occasional soda or tea, just try to make it non-caffeinated. It's OK to let your kids indulge in a piece of chocolate cake at birthday parties or a cup of tasty hot cocoa on a cold day- these treats don't pack enough of a caffeine punch to be harmful. As with everything, moderation is the key to keeping your kids' caffeine consumption under control.