Your toddler needs a lot of essential vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Find out which are the most important ones and which foods to feed your toddler to ensure they get their daily intake.
Vitamins and minerals are essential for good toddler health and development. Ensure your child is getting the best possible balanced diet by referring to this list of minerals and vitamins for toddlers, the recommended daily intakes for a child aged 1-3 years, and what foods to find them in.
If you do find yourself struggling to get your toddler to eat enough of the right foods, multivitamins for kids can be a useful option. You should check with your doctor first, however, and ask for their advice on the best multivitamins for kids.
As always, when trying your toddler with new foods, be mindful of potential allergic reactions. You should also always supervise your child when eating, to reduce the choking risk.
Please note that you should check the following recommended daily intake amounts with your toddler’s healthcare professional.
The sunshine vitamin helps the body to absorb calcium and is essential for building strong bones and teeth. It also functions as a hormone within the body to regulate the immune system, and help with insulin production and cell growth. Sunshine is one of the best sources, as the body produces this vitamin when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D for infants can be a tricky one, however, as it can’t be produced if your toddler is covered with clothing or sun protection. Therefore, you’re advised to consult your doctor on the amount of sun exposure your child needs per day. Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, egg yolk, and fortified foods such as yogurt, orange juice, milk and cheese are alternative sources of Vitamin D for kids.
Recommended daily intake: 15 micrograms (mcg)
Vitamin A aids vision and promotes good bone, hair, nails and skin growth. It also helps to protect from infection. Colorful fruits and vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, squash, kale, cantaloupe, apricots, red bell peppers, broccoli and mango are good sources of Vitamin A. You could also choose a multivitamin for kids to top up their levels.
Recommended daily intake: 300 micrograms (mcg)
An excellent repair-vitamin, Vitamin C can help to repair red blood cells, bone and tissue, heal cuts and wounds, strengthen blood vessels and gums, and help to prevent infection. It’s packed into plenty of fruits and vegetables including guava, orange juice, red bell peppers, papaya, kiwi, oranges, broccoli, strawberries, pink grapefruit, cantaloupe and mango – and can, of course, be found in many kids multi-vitamins.
Recommended daily intake: 15 milligrams (mg)
This great infection fighter is a very important vitamin for kids! Vitamin E helps the body to fight germs, boosts the immune system, and also keeps blood vessels open to aid blood flow. Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds including almonds and almond butter, sunflower seeds and sunflower seed butter, peanuts and peanut butter. Wheat germ oil, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, butternut squash and olive oil are also good sources.
Recommended daily intake: 6 milligrams (mg)
This vitamin helps the blood to clot when your toddler gets a cut. It’s found naturally in eggs, meat, fish, liver, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower.
Recommended daily intake: 30 micrograms (mcg)
This super-group of essential vitamins includes B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid) B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin) and B12 (cyanocobalamin). They have a variety of roles in the body, including being important for metabolic activity and helping to make red blood cells. The B vitamins can be found in whole grains such as wheat and oats, meat and fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, beans and peas. You could also supplement diet with toddler vitamins containing this group.
Recommended daily intake: B1 0.5 mg, B2 0.5 mg, B3 6 mg, B5 2 mg, B6 0.5 mg, B7 8 mcg, B12 0.9 mcg.
Folate (Folic Acid)
Folic acid is important for growing children as it helps the body to make proteins and red blood cells. It can be found in dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, fortified cereals, chickpeas, beans and lentils, cooked artichoke, beets and okra, avocado, papaya and orange juice.
Recommended daily intake: 150 micrograms (mcg)
Note: All vitamin RDAs have been taken from the Dietary Reference Intakes (Vitamins) chart compiled by the USA’s Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, National Academies.
Calcium builds strong bones and teeth – which makes it very important during childhood! Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are the best sources of calcium. You can also find it in fortified orange juice, fortified formula milk and raw tofu.
Recommended daily intake: 700 milligrams (mg)
Zinc is an essential mineral for digestion and metabolism. A deficiency in zinc could cause stunted growth in children! Fortunately, it is found in lots of different foods including baked beans, beef shank, fortified cereal, almonds, cashew and almond butter, oatmeal, ricotta cheese, chicken, lentils and Swiss cheese.
Recommended daily intake: 3 milligrams (mg)
This mineral has benefits for the bones, heart, immune system, and muscle and nerve function – it’s a good all-rounder! You can find it in nuts and legumes, leafy green vegetables, bread made from wholegrain wheat flour, all-bran cereal, cashew nuts, peanuts, soy milk, edamame beans, almond butter and peanut butter.
Recommended daily intake: 80 milligrams (mg)
Potassium helps to control the body’s water balance and maintain the right blood pressure levels. You can find it in milk, meat and cereals, as well as potatoes (with skin), prunes and prune juice, raisins, orange juice, bananas, spinach and cantaloupe.
Iron is known for being good for blood health. It can also affect brain development. Animal sources of iron include meat and fish. These are easily absorbed by the body. You can also get iron from non-meat sources including dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, fortified bread and cereal, and dried fruit. To help the body absorb iron from a non-meat source it needs vitamin C, so try to serve a good source of this vitamin in the same meal. You’ll also find multi-vitamins with iron available for toddlers.
Recommended daily intake: 7 milligrams (mg)
Note: All mineral RDAs have been taken from the Dietary Reference Intakes (Elements) chart compiled by the USA’s Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, National Academies.
Hopefully this list will help you to plan a truly balanced diet for your toddler, gaining maximum benefit from the variety of essential vitamins and minerals – but those who do struggle with picky eaters could try asking their doctor to recommend a good kids multivitamin for extra peace of mind.
If you have any concerns about your toddler’s nutrition, or any questions about the importance of vitamins for toddler health, your doctor or healthcare professional will be able to advise you further.