Kids & Vitamins

Kids & Vitamins



Here are some hints to help parents get easy compliance and safe results with kids and supplements. 

 *  Vitamin supplements are much safer than medicines, so it is  not necessary to be that exact in figuring how much to give. With our kids, we found it convenient to think, "What fraction of an adult do we have here?" We figured an adult dose for an adult weight.  If an adult was 180 pounds and one tablet, then a 90 pound adolescent was half a tablet and a 45 pound child was one quarter tablet. One eighth tablet for a 23 pound toddler and one sixteenth tablet for a baby of 12 pounds. You can safely round up and give more than this. Pound for pound, a youngster's need for vitamins is proportionally greater than that of an adult. 

 *  You can not expect a small child to swallow a tablet or a chunk of a tablet. You can crush the tablet (or tablet fraction) and give the resulting powder in juice or mixed in a bit of food. Hot food is not an appropriate choice for heat-sensitive vitamins. Applesauce or other pureed fruit works well. Pineapple or other sweet juice is fine, too. Pick a food or drink that hides a vitamin taste nicely. Remember, you get to swallow these things whole. Vitamins are not put into tablets for nothing!  I still remember the time my father first gave me a vitamin pill when I was a kid.  I innocently asked him if it was chewable or not and his answer was, "Try it."  I did. Crunch. Yuk. That's why these hints are provided. 

 *  Giving "doctored" portions early in the meal helps ensure they get down. Use as small an amount of juice or fruit as possible, rather than "taint" an entire portion.  The moment the dose is swallowed, IMMEDIATELY follow it with a favorite "chaser."  Some sweet juice or fruit will take away any aftertaste from the supplement. We would go so far as to have two cups of juice on the table in front of the child.  One contained one-eighth cup or less of juice with the powder mixed in. The other cup was comfortably full of juice only. The moment the odd-tasting juice disappeared, we had the yummy juice right at the kid's lips.  Speed is important here.  Hit the taste buds with a nice flavor before they even get a chance to figure out the first one.  We've gotten our kids to drink raw zucchini juice this way, so believe me, it works. 

 *  With babies, all the above preparations may still result in the desired mixture ending up on the floor, on the highchair or on you. Try it again.  Just like learning to walk.  As it becomes routine, the child will accept it. Start early and acceptance will come early. Good habits thus formed will bring dividends for years. 

 *  Liquid vitamin preparations are fine, with a drawback. They do not keep particularly well after opening, and lose potency quickly even in the refrigerator. Incidentally, vitamin tablets or capsules should NOT be kept in a refrigerator. I know it says "Store in a cool, dry place," but a 'fridge is a cold, wet place. Moisture generally reduces supplement potency.  Keep the bottles out of the sun, out of the car and off the stove and they will be cool enough. 

 *  Chewable supplements are tasty and convenient. Once a child is old enough to handle chewable tablets s/he will usually take to them without complaint.  Beware of artificial colors, artificial flavors and especially artificial sweeteners.  These potentially harmful chemicals are money savers for the manufacturer and do no good for your child. Try a health food store, and read labels always. 

 *  Chewable vitamin C is handy for restaurants and traveling. Try to get the non-acidic ASCORBATE form of vitamin C in your chewables. This is easier on tooth enamel than the common ascorbic acid form of vitamin C.  Ascorbic acid chewables can still be used.  We always gave our kids a rinse of water or juice after chewing ANY tablet. Non-acidic "C" is more important for regular, repeated chewable vitamin C use, such as when a child is ill and taking a lot.  I would like to add that soft drinks are far worse on tooth enamel than ascorbic acid. Cola's and other soda contains phosphoric acid. This is the same ingredient that dentists use to etch away tooth enamel before sealants are applied. Phosphoric acid (and sugar!) should be removed FIRST from a child's diet. 

 *  Here is one way to tell if a child is old enough to swallow a vitamin tablet: offer a small cash reward if the kid can do it. Since chewable tablets tend to be more expensive than regular tablets containing the same amounts of nutrients, you will still be money ahead if this works. Start first with a small capsule. Tell the child that it is OK if they can't swallow this like a BIG boy or girl can. Pride and spending money seemed to be an irresistible combination for our kids. 

 *  There are adults who cannot swallow a tablet. Many of these people, I've found, were forced as children to take a pill before they wanted to.  Since honey is better bait than vinegar, you can try offering a teaspoon of honey after your child has gotten the supplement down. 

 *  If all this seems like coercion, that's because it is.  And why not? Supplements do no good in the bottle. 

 *  When in public places, keep supplements low-key. Likewise, when visiting relatives, there is no need to make a show or an issue over children's vitamins.  You can give your child their vitamins before you leave home or when you get back. Chewable supplements that look and taste like candy are convenient in more ways than one. Health food stores and pharmacies have a variety of popular vitamin products that do not even resemble "pills." 

 *  Technically, most schools require a letter from a doctor giving permission for a child to take supplements at school. If you can get such a letter from your M.D., it is handy to have. Try to avoid letting the school health people make a big production over it. Your child should not be pulled out of class or out of an activity to take a vitamin. There is no reason for any kid to be singled out at school just because supplements have always been a part of their good diet.  Most principals are sensitive to children's feelings, and will respond well to your friendly parent note or phone call. 

 *  We found that we could include one or two vitamin C chewables in our kid's lunches and nobody ever objected.  It's true that the chewables DID look a lot like candy.  A lot healthier, though.

Copyright  C  2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. Revised and copyright 2019.  

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )


Andrew W. Saul


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