What are vitamins?
Vitamins are micronutrients, or very small nutrients that play a major role in many different processes in your body. Vitamins enable, for example, digestion and metabolism to function properly. They are micronutrients and, unlike macronutrients, do not in themselves provide your body with energy. But vitamins do ensure that you can get energy from the macronutrients: they function as a catalyst. They have a supporting function in some processes but are even essential in many processes. ‘Vita’ therefore means ‘life’: vitamins are indispensable in many processes.
Together with minerals, also called micronutrients, vitamins ensure that all processes in your body run smoothly. There are thirteen different vitamins in total, each with its own function. Your body can make four of these itself: vitamin K, D, A and B3. Vitamin K can be synthesised entirely by the body. Vitamin D can also be produced by the body but contact with sunlight is necessary for this. The production of vitamin A and vitamin B3 requires the presence of the amino acids tryptophan and beta-carotene, which are obtained from food. The vitamins that your body can produce itself, it makes – except for vitamin K – only in small quantities. That’s why supplements from food are necessary: both for these four vitamins and for the other nine.
Eating a varied diet is therefore very important and is the number one advice of the Dutch Nutrition Centre. The more different foods you eat, the greater the chance that you take in many different vitamins and minerals. The Dutch Nutrition Centre knows that this is more difficult than it sounds, and that is why they have drawn up the ‘Schijf van Vijf’. This guideline can be used by everyone as a tool to ensure you get enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats (Dutch Nutrition Centre, 2019). During some phases of your life, your body has a greater vitamin requirement than normal, such as during illness, pregnancy or when you reach a certain age. Especially in these periods it is therefore recommended to supplement your vitamin intake with supplements (Redactie Gezondheidsplein, 2018).
Does my child need a (multi)vitamin?
That is a question many parents ask themselves. And that is understandable, because young children in particular often eat few vegetables. Fortunately, vitamins can also be found in other products, such as fruit, wholemeal bread, brown rice, milk and potatoes. Although many children do not eat many vegetables, the majority still get enough vitamins. This was shown in research by the RIVM, which looked at the consumption behaviour of more than 1,250 children between the ages of 2 and 6. But from the age of 7, some children consume less vitamin A, B1, C and E, magnesium, potassium and zinc than recommended. In all cases, it is recommended that children up to 4 years of age be given 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily in addition to their diet, regardless of whether they eat enough vegetables. Vitamin D drops, pills or gummies, such as Multi Plus by Yummygums, are sufficient for this purpose. Extra vitamin D supports bone development in young children.
Did you know that Yummygums contain nearly every vitamin your body needs?
You can find them in food, drinks and supplements: vitamins.
What should I look for when buying vitamins for my child?
A critical look at the label of a supplement is recommended. Children under the age of 4 need 10 micrograms of extra vitamin D every day, but not all children’s multivitamins contain sufficient vitamin D. Therefore, you may need a vitamin D supplement in addition to the multivitamin. Yummygums Multi Plus is designed to provide 15 micrograms of vitamin D in a daily dose for children (2 gummies). An additional vitamin D supplement is then not necessary.
By law, the packaging of vitamin supplements must state exactly how many vitamins a supplement contains. However, the label must also state the percentage of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for adults, whereas adults need about twice as many vitamins as children. So interpreting the quantity of vitamins is difficult, as it is not tailored to the vitamin needs of children. Therefore, when it comes to multivitamins for children, choose a supplement that is a maximum of 50 per cent of the RDA.
Yummygums Multi Plus are easy to dose for both children and their parents: children can take two gummies a day, parents four. There’s no need to worry about excess intake of vitamin D, as a large dose of this vitamin is harmless. Unfortunately this is not true for all vitamins: more than 200 micrograms (for children aged 3) or 350 micrograms (for children aged 4 to 8) of synthetic folic acid can lead to health problems. Yummygums Multi Plus contains 200 micrograms of folic acid per 4 gummies. Check the label before you buy a supplement and pay particular attention to the amount of vitamin A and folic acid (Dutch Consumers’ Association, 2019).
Can my child have too many vitamins?
Taking more supplements than recommended by the manufacturer or eating many products with extra vitamins in addition to the supplement, may cause an excessive vitamin dose. Many foods designed for children now have extra vitamins added to them. Follow the recommendation mentioned on the packaging and check the label when you buy a supplement. The bottles of Yummygums contain a safety cap so that young children do not have unlimited access to the vitamin supplements.
What does ‘% of RDA’ mean on the bottle?
The abbreviation ‘RDA‘ stands for recommended daily allowance. According to the Health Council of the Netherlands, this is the optimal amount of vitamins and minerals to ingest on a daily basis. Sometimes RI, which stands for Reference Intake, is mentioned on the label. RDA and RI mean the same thing: it states how much of a vitamin the supplement contains in relation to the guideline. As age, gender and specific situations can create different vitamin needs, each category has its own RDA. On the Vitamine Info website you can find out exactly what amounts you and your child need. Vitamine Info bases its information on the Health Council guidelines.
Synthetic or natural
You may have heard that there is a difference between the natural and the synthetic version of a vitamin or a mineral. For minerals, the main difference between the two forms is that the natural form actually occurs in nature. It may be in an animal, vegetable or mineral form. When you reproduce a substance in a laboratory, it is a synthetic substance. In some cases, the synthetic version is exactly the same as the natural one, and your body does not ‘see’ the difference because the versions are identical. As not all manufacturers use the same substances in the production process, there is often a difference between different vitamin supplements (Gezondheidsplein, 2019).
In most cases, there is no difference between the intake of natural or synthetic vitamins. Vitamins D, B5, B6, folic acid (B11) and B12 are an exception. The synthetic form of these vitamins is known to be better absorbed. For vitamin E, it is exactly the other way around: the natural form is better absorbed by your body (Dutch Consumers’ Association, 2019).
Are expensive multivitamins better than inexpensive ones?
If you look purely at the quality of the vitamins in a supplement, there is no difference between expensive and inexpensive supplements. To your body, a molecule of vitamin D is simply a molecule of vitamin D, no matter how much you paid for it. Where supplements do differ is in the use of different raw materials or additives in the manufacturing process. In addition, brand name products often have a larger – and therefore more specific – range than generic brands.
Whether your child is healthy depends on numerous factors. Fortunately, there are a number of components that can give an indication. Is your child getting enough vitamins and minerals, does your child exercise enough and does your child have a healthy BMI? On the other hand, your child is not necessarily unhealthy if one of these factors is not optimal, but according to the Dutch Centre for Youth Health, it is advisable not to let your child deviate too far from the average. Giving your child a healthy diet and an active lifestyle is something he or she will benefit from later on. If children eat healthily from an early age and consume all the vitamins and minerals they need, there is a good chance that they will be able to maintain these healthy patterns for the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, young children cannot always appreciate the taste of vegetables because their taste buds still need to become accustomed to them. The solution: keep offering it, and they will like it eventually. If you are worried about your child’s eating behaviour, ask a dietician or your GP for advice. Pay attention not only to vitamins and minerals, but also to fish fatty acids and fibre, for example.
E-numbers and sugar
Although the image of e-numbers has taken some knocks in recent years, e-numbers are safe. If they were not safe, they would not be approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). An e-number is actually nothing more than an approved substance that has been given a code to reduce the length of the list of ingredients. It can be a safe synthetic substance or a natural substance. For example, all-natural ingredients such as citric acid or turmeric can also be ‘hidden’ under an e-number.
Research by the Dutch Consumers’ Association shows that most multivitamins for children aged three and over do not contain sugar, but a sweetener. Gummies often contain sugar or glucose syrup, according to the label. The pills sometimes contain sugar and sweetener. The advantage of jellies or gummies is that children can chew them, and they taste better than a pill. If the gummy is too big or the dose too high, it can easily be halved.
If children eat a healthy and varied diet, they get all the vitamins and minerals they need. Supplements are then in principle not necessary, with the exception of dark-skinned children, children who do not go outdoors often enough or children under the age of four. For these children, the supplementation advice applies of 10 micrograms vitamin D per day. The Dutch Nutrition Centre also gives a vitamin K supplementation advice of 150 micrograms for babies from 0 to 3 months.
Below you will find a schedule with all the vitamins that children require from 0 months up to 18 years. This is a brief overview, later on this page the most essential vitamins for children will be explained in more detail.
These are the recommended daily amounts:
|Vitamins||0 to 5 months||6 to 11 months||1 to 3 years||4 to 8 years||9 to 13 years||14 to 18 years|
|A||– –||300 mcg||300/350*3 mcg||350/400*4 mcg RE||600 mcg||700/900*6 mcg RE|
|B1||0.2 mg||0.2 mg||0.3 mg||0.5 mg||0.8 mg||1.1 mg|
|B2||0.4 mg||0.4 mg||0.5 mg||0.7 mg||1.0 mg||1.1/1.5*6 mg|
|B3||2*1 mg||2 mg||4 mg NE||7 mg||11 mg||13/17*6 mg NE|
|B5||2 mg||2 mg||2 mg||3 mg||4 mg||5 mg|
|B6||0.12-0.20*2 mg||0.2 mg||0.4 mg||0.7 mg||1.1 mg||1.5 mg|
|B8||5 mcg||6 mcg||20 mcg||25 mcg||25/35*5 mcg||35 mcg|
|B11||50 mcg||60 mcg||85 mcg||150 mcg||225 mcg||300 mcg|
|B12||0.4 mcg||0.5 mcg||0.7 mcg||1.3 mcg||2.0 mcg||2.8 mcg|
|C||– –||20 mg||25/30*3 mg||30/40*4 mg||50 mg||75 mg|
|D||10 mcg||10 mcg||10 mcg||10 mg||10 mcg||10 mcg|
|E||– –||3 αTE||4/5*3 αTE||5/6*4 αTE||7/8*6 αTE||8/10*6 αTE|
|K||150 mcg||– –||30 mcg||55 mcg||60 mcg||75 mcg|
The units are expressed in milligrams (mg) or micrograms (mcg), RE = retinol units, NE = nicotinic acid equivalents, αTE = alpha tocopherol units.
1 Assuming full breastfeeding.
2 With full-term breastfeeding 0.12 mg, with bottle feeding (due to higher protein content) 0.20 mg.
*3 1st quantity applies to 1 to 2 years 2nd quantity applies to 3 years.
*4 1st quantity applies to 4-5 years; 2nd quantity applies to 6-8 years.
*5 1st quantity is for 9-10 years; 2nd quantity applies to 11-13 years.
*6 1st quantity applies to girls; 2nd quantity applies to boys.
(Vitamine Info, 2019)
Which foods contain these vitamins?
Below, we briefly highlight the foods in which the most important vitamins for children are found. For a more detailed account of vitamins and exactly where they are found, see the Nutritional Table and the Yummygums Vitamin Library.
Key vitamins for children
The most important vitamins for children are highlighted in more detail below.
Vitamin A is important for growth, healthy skin, hair, nails, eyes and the immune system. This vitamin is found in animal products, such as meat and meat products, and especially in liver. Fruit and vegetables contain beta-carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A. Do not give your child too much vitamin A, as it can be harmful for children. Read here how this works.
Vitamin B6 ensures the production of white blood cells and keeps the lymph nodes, where the white blood cells are made, healthy. The vitamin is found in meat, fish, nuts, bread, grains, legumes, vegetables and dairy products.
This vitamin protects the body’s cells. Vitamin C is also necessary for the formation of connective tissue, the absorption of iron and is good for your immune system. It is also an antioxidant that helps protect tissue from damage. Potatoes, vegetables and fruit contain high levels of vitamin C.
Vitamin D is necessary for the growth and development of your child’s bones and teeth. Vitamin D also plays a role in the functioning of muscles, the immune system and the absorption of calcium. You can find vitamin D mainly in fatty fish, low-fat margarine and margarine.
Vitamin E protects the walls of cells, blood vessels, organs, eyes and tissue from damage. Vitamin E is found in sunflower oil, low-fat margarine, bread, grains, nuts, seeds and fruit.
Below you will find a schedule with the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of minerals needed by children from 6 months to 18 years. Below the overview, the most essential minerals for children are explained in more detail.
|Minerals||6 to 11 months||1 to 2 years||3 years||4 to 8 years||9 to 13 years||14 to 18 years|
|Calcium||450 mg||500 mg||500 mg||700 mg||1100/1200*3 mg||1100/1200*3 mg|
|Chloride||– –||1,5 g||1,5 g||1,9 g||2,3 g||2,3 g|
|Chrome||5.5 mcg||11 mcg||11 mcg||15 mcg||*4||24/35*3 mcg|
|Fluoride||0.4 mg||0.6 mg||0.6 mg||*2||1.5/1.4*3 mg||2.9/3.2*3*6 mg|
|Phosphorus||420 mg/kg||470 mg||470 mg||470 mg||700 mg||700 mg|
|Iron||8 mg||8 mg||8 mg||8 mg||11 mg||15/11*3 mg|
|Iodine||50 mg||70 mcg||90 mcg||90 mcg||150 mcg||150 mcg|
|Potassium||1100 mg||1400 mg||1800 mg||1800 mg||2900/3300*3 mg||3100/3500*3 mg|
|Copper||0.3 mg||0.3 mg||0.4 mg||0.4 mg||0.7 mg||0.9 mg|
|Magnesium||80 mg||85 mg||120 mg||120/200*1 mg||280 mg||280/350*3 mg|
|Manganese||0.2/0.5 mg||0.5 mg||0.5 mg||1.0 mg||*5||3.0*6 mg|
|Molybdenum||10 mcg||15 mcg||15 mcg||15/20*1 mcg||*6||65*6 mcg|
|Sodium||0,4 g||1,2 g||1,2 g||*7||*7||*7|
|Selenium||50 mcg||20 mcg||25 mcg||25 mcg||40 mcg||50/60*3 mcg|
|Zinc||5 mg||5 mg||6 mg||6 mg||8/11*3 mg||9/12*3 mg|
The units are expressed in milligrams (mg), micrograms (mcg) or milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg). Children from 0 to 5 months only need 210 mg of calcium and 0.2 mcg of chromium.
*1 1st quantity applies to 4 – 5 years; 2nd quantity applies to 6 – 8 years.
*2 Girls 4 – 6 years 0.9 mg 7 – 10 years 1.4 mg. Boys 4-6 years 1.0 mg 7-10 years 1.5 mg.
*3 1st quantity applies to girls; 2nd quantity applies to boys.
*4 Girls 21 mcg. Boys 9 – 10 years 25 mcg, 11 – 13 years 35 mcg.
*5 Girls and boys 9 – 10 years 1.5 mg, 11 – 13 years 2.0 mg
*6 Girls and boys 9 – 10 years 30 mcg, 11 – 13 years 45 mcg.
*6 Applies to 15 – 17 years.
*7 For sodium, 4-6 years of age: 1.6 g; 7-10 years of age: 2 g; 10-18 years of age: 2.4 g
(Vitamin Info, 2019, Dutch Nutrition Centre, 2019).
The Voedingscentrum (Dutch Nutrition Centre) indicates that there is also a maximum amount for chloride intake. This is called the acceptable upper limit. For children aged 1 to 3, this is 1.8 g, for 4 to 8 years it is 2.7 g and from 9 years it is 3.6 g (Dutch Nutrition Centre, 2019)
Which foods contain these minerals?
To ensure that your child eats healthily, it is good to know what the most important vitamins are for children and in which foods you can find them. For exact information on nutritional values, visit the Nutritional Table and the Yummygums Vitamin Library.
Most important minerals for children
The most important minerals for children are highlighted below.
The main task of iron is to transport oxygen through the body and to support brain development. People who have an iron deficiency often feel faint or dizzy when they stand up. If you suffer from these symptoms, you may suffer from anaemia (iron deficiency). Children consume high quantities of iron as they grow, but they also get enough if they eat a varied diet. If you notice your child becoming less active or reaching for his head when he stands up, see your GP. With a simple finger prick, the iron values can be determined. The iron value is referred to as Hb, which stands for haemoglobin. You can support your child’s iron absorption by giving him or her a product rich in vitamin C with every meal, such as fruit and vegetables or orange, pineapple, grapefruit or tomato juice. This helps the body to absorb iron better (Oei, ik groei, 2019).
Virtually all foods contain sodium. Our main source of sodium is table salt, which consists of 40 per cent sodium. Your body needs sodium to regulate fluid balance and to drive muscles and nerves. This requires only a small amount of sodium, much less than the average Dutch person consumes. This is because (extra) salt has been added to many products. Be careful with your salt intake, because too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and high blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (Dutch Nutrition Centre, 2019).
Calcium is required for healthy bones, among other things. Dairy products are the main source of calcium, but it can also be found in vegetables, nuts and legumes. In the past, it was impossible to get enough calcium without these products, but nowadays dairy-free products are also sufficient, as calcium is added to them.
Vitamins by age group
You have just read that a baby needs fewer vitamins and minerals than an eight-year-old. So here are some more handy tips on vitamins according to age group.
Baby (0 – 12 months)
In the first few months, breast milk or formula is enough for your baby. This contains almost all the nutrients your baby needs: you only need to add vitamins D and K. When your baby is a week old, you can give them 10 micrograms of extra vitamin D every day. Do this until your child is four years old, because your child cannot yet get enough vitamin D from food or sunlight. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and possibly for bone production. A vitamin K deficiency can cause bleeding. A baby is usually given extra vitamin K shortly after birth because they may have developed a deficiency during pregnancy if, for example, vitamin K could not reach the baby through the placenta. In addition, babies do not yet have sufficient gut bacteria to make vitamin K themselves. If your baby is breastfed or drinks less than 500 millilitres of formula a day, he or she will receive 150 micrograms of vitamin K every day from the first day until 3 months.
Toddlers (1 – 3 years)
Children of this age can be difficult eaters. Toddlers in particular can sometimes make a mess of things: they eat little fruit, vegetables and fish and do not get enough fat. Fortunately, by now you have an idea of which foods are rich in vitamins and minerals. Iron, vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) are particularly important for toddlers. If you need some inspiration, check out the feeding schedules for toddlers at oudersvannu.nl. They make it easier to plan meals for the whole day.
Children (4 – 13 years)
Children do not need the same dose of every vitamin, and it can be hard to know how much they are getting. If you want to make sure your child gets enough vitamins and minerals, try these sample menus from the Nutrition Centre. Talk to other parents and compare what your children eat and drink.
If you choose not to serve meat or fish, it is wise to keep an eye on your iron intake. Give plenty of wholegrain products, pulses, nuts and eggs. Apple syrup with added iron is also an excellent choice. Vitamin C promotes the absorption of iron from food, so some fruit and/or vegetables with a breakfast or lunch meal is recommended. That also applies to non-vegetarian children. Preferably purchase meat substitutes with added iron and preferably also vitamin B12 or take a supplement.
If you follow a vegan diet (without animal products), it is a good idea to consult a dietician. If you don’t pay enough attention to a healthy balance of nutrients with a vegan lifestyle, the risk of deficiencies is greater. Together with a dietician, you can ensure that your child still gets everything he or she needs (Ouders van Nu, 2019).
For more information on sources of vitamins and minerals and their contribution to the recommended daily allowance (RDA), see the Dutch Vitamin Information Office’s “What’s in it?” page. On this page of the Dutch Vitamin Information Office, you’ll also find information about the consequences of an excessively high or insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals. The Dutch Nutrition Centre also provides more information on vitamins and minerals.
Consumentenbond. (2019, 10 29). Multivitamines voor kinderen. (I. Smit, Redacteur) Opgeroepen op 11 19, 2019, van Consumentenbond: https://www.consumentenbond.nl/vitamines-en-voedingssupplementen/multivitamines-kinderen
Oei, ik groei. (2019). Vitaminen en mineralen voor je kind. Opgeroepen op 11 28, 2019, van Oei, ik groei: https://www.oeiikgroei.nl/vitaminen-en-mineralen-voor-je-kind/
Ouders van nu. (2019). Belangrijke vitamines voor kinderen. (S. Verzuu, Redacteur) Opgeroepen op 11 26, 2019, van Ouders van nu: https://www.oudersvannu.nl/kind/voeding/belangrijke-vitamines-voor-kinderen/
Vitamine Info. (2019). Baby’s en kinderen. Opgeroepen op 11 28, 2019, van Vitamine Info: https://www.vitamine-info.nl/hoeveel-heb-ik-nodig/babys-en-kinderen/
Voedingscentrum. (2019). Alles over eten en drinken voor kinderen van 4-13 jaar. Opgeroepen op 11 21, 2019, van Voedingscentrum: https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/nl/zwanger-en-kind/alles-over-gezond-eten-voor-kinderen-van-4-13-jaar.aspx
Voedingscentrum. (2019). Chloride. Opgeroepen op 11 28, 2019, van Voedingscentrum: https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/chloor.aspx
Voedingscentrum. (2019). Zout en natrium. Opgeroepen op 11 28, 2019, van Voedingscentrum: https://www.voedingscentrum.nl/encyclopedie/zout-en-natrium.aspx