Facts About Vitamin A for Kids

Elise Deming, RDN
Vitamin A

It's hard to distinguish fact from fiction among all the talk surrounding nutrition. However, one confirmed fact is that vitamin A is good for kids!

Kids' Facts: Vitamin A

Vitamin A is one of several major vitamins required for health. According to the National Institute of Health's fact sheet, vitamin A promotes everything from healthy eyesight to a healthy immune system. Listed below are facts about Vitamin A, including how it functions in the body.

Vitamin A is important for anyone's health, but especially for kids! Bone growth and cell division are rapid in kids and if there is a lack of vitamins and nutrients, malnourishment and other health problems can happen.

How Much Vitamin A Do Kids Need?

All vitamins have an RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance. This is the amount of a vitamin that people should be getting in one day for good health. Here are the vitamin A RDA's for kids:

  • Babies ages 0 to 6 months need 1,320 IU or which is in about 3/4 cup cooked spinach.
  • Infants ages 7 to 12 months need 1,650 IU, which is in about half of a sweet potato.
  • Kids ages 1-3 years need 1,000 IU of vitamin A, which you'll find in 2 cups of skim milk.
  • Kids ages 4-8 years need 1,320 IU. There's that much in 1/4 cup raw cantaloupe.
  • Kids ages 9-13 years need 2,000 IU of vitamin A, which is in a little over 1 cup of raw carrots.

Kids can get enough Vitamin A through a balanced diet with the foods listed below. However, taking vitamin supplements can boost vitamin A levels if you don't eat a variety of foods. Here are some tips on taking vitamins:

  • Most doctors say you should take vitamins to make sure you're getting plenty of vitamin A.
  • Kids shouldn't take more vitamin A than the RDA unless your doctor suggests you do and monitors you.
  • If you get too much vitamin A, you could get really sick.
  • When you regularly don't get enough vitamin A, your body doesn't always have enough stored, which could also make you sick.
  • Vitamins are not candy even though they may taste like it! Only take the recommended amount or you could get ill.

Supplements are a great way to get all of your necessary vitamins. However, always check with a doctor before taking any type of vitamins.

Sources of Vitamin A

Food are the best source of vitamin A! Some excellent sources of vitamin A are:

  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Beef Liver for brave kids
  • Kale
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricot
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Oatmeal

Some ways to make these foods taste delicious is by boiling carrots until soft and mashing them like a potato, making a fruit salad with mango, papaya and cantaloupe, or having oatmeal for breakfast. There are many ways to get vitamin A through the foods you eat.

Vitamin A Infographic

Too Much Vitamin A

Although vitamin A promotes health in many ways, the body stores this vitamin. Therefore, extreme intake or taking too many vitamins can have negative effects such as:

  • Bone loss that can contribute to osteoporosis
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting (throwing up)
  • Liver damage
  • Potential death

Toxicity from food sources of vitamin A is very rare. If taking vitamins, take a safe level by never going over the RDA's listed above.

Vitamin A Deficiency in Kids

Just like any other nutrient, kids can be deficient in vitamin A if you are not eating the right foods or taking vitamins.

  • Deficiency is rare among kids born in Western societies like the USA.

  • Vitamin A deficiency is much more common in developing nations where kids don't get a variety of foods.

  • Children deficient in vitamin A can develop vision problems, blindness, and skin problems.

  • The World Health Organization states that 250 million preschool children around the world are at risk of not getting enough vitamin A.

  • Deficiency can be prevented by consuming foods high in vitamin A or taking vitamins.

In Western culture, vitamin A deficiency is uncommon. However, around the world, many children are being treated for it.

Kids and Vitamin A

Vitamin A provides many health benefits, such as bone growth, immunity, vision, and much more! You can find vitamin A in many foods, so there are sure to be some you can enjoy. With a varied diet, you are likely to get plenty of this important vitamin through food sources, but if you need supplements follow the guidelines your doctor gives you.

Facts About Vitamin A for Kids