Worldwide, an estimated 350 million kids under the age of five have a vitamin deficiency. As a result, many of them are shorter than average, while others are far too thin for their height. More than that, vitamin deficiency puts kids at risk of more serious health woes.
The vitamin B complex is one such group of nutrients kids need for proper growth and development. Many of the eight types of vitamin B for kids play a role in their metabolism. They can affect the height, weight, energy, and even the blood of your little ones.
To that end, we created this guide detailing the benefits of B vitamins for children. Read on to discover how crucial these nutrients are to your kids’ health.
1. Necessary for Red Blood Cell Production
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Vitamins B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin) are B vitamins that help the body create red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen and makes the blood red. These cells absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the body and deliver it to the lungs for exhalation.
As with all B vitamins, the body doesn’t create its own vitamin B9 or B12 supplies. That’s why people need to get them from external sources, like food and supplements. Low supplies of vitamin B9 or B12 can lead to anemia.
That’s because anemia is a condition that results from a lack of healthy red blood cells. It affects an estimated 598 million preschool- and school-age children worldwide.
In children, anemia can cause tiredness, pale skin, and a faster heart rate. It can also lead to impaired growth and development, and in more severe cases, heart problems.
Fortunately, vitamin B9 is in nuts, beans, peas, dark green veggies, and beef liver. Vitamin B12 is in dairy products, such as eggs and milk, fish, poultry, and meat. Both B vitamins are also common in fortified products like cereals and fruit juices.
If your little ones have dairy allergies, consider non-dairy-based vitamins. You might also want to go with liquid vitamins, as these are easier for kids to swallow than tablets and gummies. You can even add a few drops to their favorite drinks.
2. Converts Iron Into Hemoglobin
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) also helps the body make RBCs by turning iron into hemoglobin. Therefore, a lack of pyridoxine can also cause anemia.
Vitamin B6 is in fortified cereals, green leafy veggies, fruits, nuts, and legumes. Other good sources are fish, meat, poultry, and liver. You might also want to ask your kids’ pediatrician for help in choosing B vitamin supplements.
3. Essential for Metabolic Processes
Metabolism is the process wherein the body converts food and drinks into energy. It can involve glucose, fats, carbohydrates, or proteins. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B7 all play roles in various metabolic processes.
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Vitamin B1 (thiamine) helps metabolize glucose for the body to use as a source of energy. The brain and RBCs use metabolized glucose as their primary source of fuel. As such, a lack of this thiamine can affect brain and RBC functions.
In fact, a lack of vitamin B1 can cause a brain disorder known as Wernicke encephalopathy. It can be fatal, so it’s vital to ensure your little ones get enough thiamine.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps metabolize glucose, fat, and carbohydrates. Riboflavin specifically turns carbs into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP, in turn, is essential for storing energy in the muscles.
Children and adults need a daily intake of vitamin B2 as the body can only store small amounts. It’s also for this reason that riboflavin supplies can easily get depleted.
Vitamin B3 (niacin), like B2, also assists in glucose, fat, and carb metabolism.
Niacin is essential for cellular metabolism. This is the process in which cells grow, divide, or reproduce. As such, a lack of vitamin B3 can result in fatigue or apathy.
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) also plays a role in converting glucose, fats, and carbs into fuel. Moreover, it helps maintain the health of the digestive tract. It also aids in the effective use of other vitamins, especially vitamin B2.
Vitamin B7 is necessary for fat and amino acid metabolism and cell growth. It also helps the body produce fatty acids, which are vital for energy storage. Moreover, it plays a role in some metabolic processes that involve CO2 transfer.
4. Helps Keep the Nerves Healthy
Vitamins B1, B6, and B12 also play roles in keeping the nervous system healthy. For example, studies suggest that vitamins B1 and B6 help protect the nerves and nerve cells. Vitamin B12, in turn, appears to help the nerves recover from injuries.
As such, deficiencies in these B vitamins may affect the nervous system of children. In kids, nervous system disorders can lead to developmental delays and mobility issues. These conditions may also lead to coordination and reflex problems.
5. Healthier Skin and Hair
Studies suggest that vitamin B6 is important to maintain optimal skin health. By contrast, a lack of pyridoxine may contribute to the development of dry skin or rashes. Cracked lips are also common in kids and adults who lack vitamin B6.
Vitamin B3 also helps promote skin and hair health. For example, niacin aids in locking moisture within the skin. This can be especially helpful for active kids who play and perspire a lot.
Start Stocking up on the Best Sources of Vitamin B for Kids
As you can see, all eight types of vitamin B for kids are crucial for their growth and overall health. Lacking even just one can already affect their energy levels or, worse, their red blood cells.
So, as early as today, add as many vitamin B-rich food sources, such as fruits and veggies, to your meals. You can also ask your kids’ doctor to help you determine which supplements are safe for your little ones.
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