Kids & Vitamins

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Then use the children's version of the USDA MyPlate.gov at www.usda.gov to determine the proper portions and how many servings your child needs from each of the food groups. If your child resists, try to win her over by letting her help out in the kitchen. Zanecosky says her daughter started eating more iron-rich foods such as scrambled eggs and chili with beans and meat when she taught her how to prepare them.

4. Reexamine her diet.

Give yourself a month to improve your child's eating habits. Then recalculate his nutrient intake using the University of Illinois software. If you still find shortfalls, consider a supplement, although you should continue trying to improve your child's eating habits, says Dr. Picciano. Which vitamin and mineral supplement is best? It depends.

If your child's diet is insufficient in calcium only, you should opt for a calcium supplement rather than a multivitamin because it contains more of the bone-building mineral. Otherwise, try a multivitamin/multimineral tablet that doesn't contain herbal ingredients and is made specifically for kids, says Thomas Badger, Ph.D., director of the USDA Children's Nutrition Research Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock. "Many herbal ingredients are unsafe for children, and adult tablets may contain too much of certain nutrients for kids' bodies," he warns.

Since the U.S. government doesn't verify that a supplement contains the amount of the nutrients indicated or that they are in a form the body is capable of absorbing, consider a brand that participates in the United States Pharmacopoeia's Dietary Supplement Verification Program. Companies that meet the stringent requirements can be found at www.usp-dsvp.org, and the certification mark will appear on supplement labels.

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