Winter is a great time of year to write a post about Vitamin C for kids.
As I write and fight my ‘going on 3 week’ winter cold (which has turned into a sinus infection…why do these illnesses hit at the most busy time of the year?!), I am reassessing the amount of Vitamin C I get in my diet.
Not only is this vitamin important for me, it’s important for my children too. For many of us, Vitamin C is associated with preventing illness and boosting immunity. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying, “Take Vitamin C for that cold!”
But this nutrient has other important roles within the body: helping with the absorption of iron from foods, acting as a protector to cells, protecting the body from bruising, helping heal wounds and keep your gums healthy, and producing collagen (the connective tissue that holds everything together).
Vitamin C should be consumed daily, as it is water-soluble and not stored by the body.
Vitamin C for Kids: How much is needed?
The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) provides the following guidelines:
0-6 months: 40 mg/day
7-12 months: 50 mg/day
1-3 years: 15 mg/day
4-8 years: 25 mg/day
9-13 years: 45 mg/day
14-18 year males: 75 mg/day
14-18 year females: 65 mg/day
Large doses of Vitamin C, although not usually toxic, can cause some unpleasant side effects such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and kidney stones.
Vitamin C for Kids: Can it be Toxic?
Vitamin and mineral supplements should always be used with caution, particularly with children. The safe upper limit for vitamin C in children varies by age and is lower than that recommended for adults (2000 mg/day).
Take caution when supplementing Vitamin C in children and avoid exceeding these limits: 1-3 years: 400 mg/day; 4-8 years: 650 mg/day; 9-13 years: 1200 mg/day; 14-18 years: 1800 mg/day.
The upper limit of Vitamin C in infants less than a year is undetermined.
Where can Vitamin C be Found?
Many people know that Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits. It is also found in many other foods that can add additional vitamins, nutrients, and fiber to your child’s diet.
Broccoli actually has more vitamin C than grapefruit. Red peppers, berries, melons, potatoes, papaya, guava, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables are also great choices.
Pairing these Vitamin C-rich foods with other foods containing iron and folate, helps little bodies absorb them better. This is good news, considering iron is the most common nutrient deficiency among children.
Parents should be aware of other sources of Vitamin C, such as beverages fortified with vitamins. Some of these drinks may not be appropriate for little ones, due to fortification.
The best way to ensure adequate vitamin C for kids is to get the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. However, some benefits can be seen with just one serving a day. Choosing natural whole food sources over fortified foods and beverages is best.