Vitamin A for Toddlers

Vitamin A helps support the growth and development of toddlers as they grow by literal leaps and bounds. This fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant plays an important role in protecting your toddler from developing chronic diseases, vision impairments, and other health problems.

Here’s what you need to know about the health benefits of vitamin A for toddlers, the signs of vitamin A deficiency, and the natural ways you can incorporate vitamin A into your toddler’s diet.

Why is Vitamin A Important for Toddlers?

Vitamin A helps to support vision, bone and skin development, immune system function, and tissue repair.  

Vision

While your toddler is learning about, well, everything, it’s never been more important for them to see the world around them clearly. Our eye’s cornea covers the eyeball. Without enough vitamin A, it can become cloudy, making it very difficult to see.

Additionally, it helps to prevent night blindness by promoting the production of a protein called rhodopsin, which allows us to see in the dark.

Bones, Cartilage, and Skin

Vitamin A is necessary for strong bones and healthy hair, skin, and nails. As your toddler grows at a light-speed pace, it’s never been more important to support the development of their bones and cartilage.

Vitamin A also fortifies tooth enamel. Making sure your toddler has sufficient vitamin A, and teaching them the importance of getting their vitamins, will prepare them for a lifetime of crunching and munching their favorite foods.

Immune System Function

A healthy immune system means fewer sick days for your little one – and for you. Vitamin A supports the burgeoning immune systems of toddlers with its antioxidant properties, which protect cells from damage caused by harmful germs, pollutants, and free radicals.

Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency

Most kids get enough vitamin A from their diets. But, in the case of picky eating or dietary restrictions, it’s normal to wonder if your little one is getting enough of this vital micronutrient.

Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency in toddlers may include:

  •       Difficulty seeing, especially at night
  •       Dry eyes
  •       Dry skin
  •       Frequent illness
  •       Stunted growth

Vitamin A deficiency can be treated by eating foods that contain vitamin A and taking a supplement for extra support.

How to Get Vitamin A Naturally

Vitamin A is fat-soluble, meaning excess amounts are stored in body fat and not excreted in the urine. As a result, most toddlers only need about 300 mcg of vitamin A daily to reach the recommended daily allowance.  

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits like mango, cantaloupe, oranges, and watermelon are naturally sweet finger foods, making incorporating them into your toddler’s diet easier.

Green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale and orange ones like carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are also high in vitamin A. And, yes, pumpkin pie counts!

Fortified Grains

Is there a child that doesn’t like cereal? Most commercially available cereals contain fortified grains that are enriched with vitamin A. Top the bowl with milk or your preferred plant-based alternative, and a breakfast brimming with vitamin A (or dinner, we don’t judge) is served.

Store-bought bread is usually fortified with vitamins and is an excellent option for picky eaters. Even better with sunflower butter, almond butter, or hazelnut spread, which all contain healthy amounts of vitamin A.

Dairy and Plant-Based Alternatives

Like cereal and bread, some dairy products, like milk and cream cheese, are fortified with vitamin A.

If your toddler lives with food allergies or has other dietary restrictions, plant-based alternatives to cheese and milk, like soy, oat, or almond milk, are also enriched with vitamin A.

Toddlers and Vitamin A: Final Thoughts

It’s clear to see why vitamin A is an essential micronutrient for your toddler. It promotes eye health, bone and skin development, immune system strength, and tissue integrity. Vitamin A is found in many easily accessible food sources and can be incorporated into your toddler’s regular diet.

If you are concerned that your toddler is not getting enough vitamin A or notice symptoms of a deficiency, talk to your pediatrician, and consider a vitamin A supplement to help them grow up strong and healthy.

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