Should my child be taking supplements?

  • Wed, 08/04/2021 - 11:47
  • Should my child be taking supplements?
  • by IMI health

In an ideal world, kids would get all their nutrients from a healthy, balanced diet. But we know that in the real world, things aren’t always that simple.

The fresh fruits and vegetables we pick out at the supermarket often don’t contain the nutrition we hope they do. Low-quality soil, pesticides and food importation all negate their nutritional value.

Even if we do manage to buy nutrient-rich organic produce, our kids don’t always appreciate our efforts, as demonstrated by their downright refusal to eat their greens.

On top of that, your little ones have the added environmental pressure we all face: pollution in Hong Kong. High levels of pollution increase oxidative stress, which drives up their need for antioxidants.

The supplement debate also doesn’t acknowledge the fast paced lifestyle of Hong Kong. It demands that parents juggle work pressures while finding the time to give their kids a plate full of homemade food each night. We know that sometimes, that’s just not possible. That what you really need to do is pop a pizza in the oven, rustle up some salad, so that you can all sit together and find the time for laughter after a long day.

Supplements fill any inevitable nutritional gaps so that your kids can get the best head start in life.

So, what are the essentials?

Fish Oil

To keep their brain well fed, kids should be eating 2 portions of fish a week, so unless your children are fish fiends, they’ll likely need a supplement to maintain adequate levels of omega 3.

Fish oil works its magic before your baby enters the world. Studies show that fish oil can improve learning ability in the early years of a child’s life.[1]

Supplementation during childhood continues to nourish their brain, enhancing their learning by boosting their memory, attention and listening ability.[2] Fish oil also helps improve their attention, their ability to plan and impulse control.[3] As well as empowering them in the classroom, fish oil can help lift their mood, so that your little ones can maintain their usual sunny disposition.[4]

Aside from its benefits to your child’s brain, fish oil keeps their immunity strong, promotes better sleep, and nourishes their cardiovascular and eye health.

Discover more benefits of fish oil.

ProOmega Junior | Nordic Naturals

This tasty strawberry flavoured gummy is the no-fuss way to boost your child’s omega 3 levels. This formula contains a concentrated, purified fish oil in order to nourish your little one’s brain, eyes and immunity. 

Ultra Pure Fish Oil 1400 | Vital Nutrients

A firm family favourite at IMI, this fish oil delivers a therapeutic dose of essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA. As its name suggests, this formula is one of the purest that we have ever tested. This zesty lemon-flavoured oil can be added to smoothies, and little ones won’t suspect there’s anything fishy going on…



Our bodies are interconnected, and no part of the body demonstrates this quite as well as our gut. Probiotics cultivate a healthy balance of good bacteria in your child’s gut, which in turn nourishes their digestion, immunity, skin and mental wellbeing.

Probiotic supplementation is safe for babies and children alike. By supporting your little one’s gut, you can improve their digestion, aiding the absorption of nutrients, and the production of B vitamins.[5]

Probiotics also help provide a healthy environment for their immune system, of which 70% resides in their gut, boosting its function. [6]

By supporting a healthy gut microbiome, probiotics also support your kids’ mental health, aiding production of calming neurotransmitters like GABA.

In essence, a happy gut = a healthier child.

Kids Gummies | Optibac

A child-friendly probiotic, disguised as a tasty treat. This formula features b. coagulans, a strain known for its benefits to little tummies. Additional calcium and vitamin D3 strengthens your child’s immune and digestive systems, while supporting their growth and development.

Ther-biotic for Infants | Klaire Labs

This safe yet powerful probiotic establishes a healthy balance of good bacteria in your baby’s gut. Each scoop contains 5 billion probiotics from 10 synergistic child-friendly strains, for broad spectrum strength and protection in each dose.



Studies have shown that kids across Hong Kong have insufficient levels of vitamins and minerals that are essential to their growth and development.[7]

This is often through no fault of the parent, as the study states that kids are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s essential then, that we fill in any nutritional gaps, with a multivitamin, so that we can know that our kids are getting all the nutrients they need to grow up big and strong.

Optimal Multivitamin Chewable | Seeking Health

Bursting with readily-absorbed vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this cherry-flavoured multivitamin is designed to support developing minds and bodies. Ensure even fussy eaters get all the nutrients they need with chewable multivitamin. Also available as a powder.

Kids Formula and Fiber | SmartyPants 

From bioavailable vitamins, to omegas and prebiotics, Kids’ Formula and Fiber has it all. It features top-quality ingredients, in readily absorbed forms, so that your child can grow up healthy and strong. Its fruity gummy format ensures that your kids get their nutrients, regardless of whether they eat their broccoli.


Are vitamin imbalances common in children?

Though studies show that children in Hong Kong eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, they still don't have adequate levels of vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc.[8] Certain dietary factors, like vegetarianism may contribute to imbalances in B vitamins.[9]

As is the case with adults, there’s always a chance kids may not have adequate nutritional levels. As your children are still growing and developing, it’s especially important that they supplement any imbalances.

Vitamin D

One of the most common imbalances among children, vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports bone, immune and brain development.

It may be named the sunshine vitamin, but if you cover your kids in sunblock to protect them from sunburn, then it’s unlikely they’re getting enough sunlight to produce adequate levels of vitamin D.

Signs of vitamin D imbalance include:

  • Delayed in their walking development
  • Aching, painful or weak muscles
  • Pain in the lower limbs
  • Muscle tension

Lots of children may not show any signs of vitamin D imbalance. If you’re concerned that your child might not have adequate levels, we offer tests to assess their nutritional profile.

D3 1000IU Gummies | MegaFood

Sunshine all round- these citrus gummies are tasty support for better wellbeing. Ensure that your little one has all the vitamin D they need to build strong bones, a healthy immunity and better mental wellbeing.

Micellized Vitamin D3 | Klaire Labs

This formula is ideal for the whole family. Each drop provides your little one with 400IU of micellized vitamin D3 for optimal absorption and tangible benefits. Boost immunity while supporting healthy bones and better moods.


B vitamins

From supporting a healthy nervous system, to boosting energy, lifting your mood and improving memory, B vitamins work together to support your child’s wellbeing.

As they’re derived from animal products, vegans, vegetarians and even the lactose intolerant may are likely to have insufficient levels of B vitamins.

B vitamins are not stored in the body long-term either, which means that you have to ingest them each day, either through supplementation or food. Nuts are a great source of vegetarian B vitamins, but if your child is allergic, they’ll need a supplement for support.

Signs of vitamin B imbalance:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Delays in their growth
  • Irritability, personality changes and low mood
  • Problems with concentration or memory

Imbalances can be hard to identify at home, but it’s important to do so as low levels of B12 can lead to more serious health conditions.[10] Check your child’s nutritional profile by testing.

B12 Energy Gummies | MegaFood

These cranberry flavoured gummies provide a generous dose of B12 for better energy levels, lifted mood and healthy bones. Their colour and flavour comes from organic cranberries, which offer a boost of extra antioxidant protection.



Another common imbalance among Hong Kong children is iron. This mineral ensures your child has all the energy they need to tackle their day. It also helps boost immunity, and improve concentration.

Kids can be at risk of iron imbalance simply because the body uses a lot of this mineral when growing. Low levels can affect their growth, learning, behaviour and cognitive development.[11]

Signs of iron imbalance: 

  • Pale skin
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent impulses to eat dirt or ice

Though many kids have low iron levels, it’s essential that before giving your child an iron supplement, you test for any imbalances, as excess levels can be harmful.

SpaTone Liquid Iron | SpaTone

Naturally occurring iron enriched with apples and vitamin C for a superior absorption rate of 40%, unmatched by conventional iron supplements. Studies show that this prize-winning formula tackles iron imbalances effectively. One sachet ensures that your child meets their daily requirements for iron and vitamin C.



Zinc is a multi-purpose marvel, supporting your kids’ cognitive, eye and immune health, while offering extra antioxidant support. Its primary role during childhood however, is supporting your kids’ growth and development.

The World Health Organisation states that zinc plays a ‘critical role’ in children’s’ development and that imbalances can stunt growth and development.[12] There is hope however, as several studies have shown that supplementation is the clear antidote.[13]

Those more at risk of zinc imbalance include those with chronic conditions (particularly digestive), vegans and vegetarians, and older babies who are only breastfed, as breast milk only provides enough zinc in the first 6 months of a baby’s life.

Signs of zinc imbalance:

  • Delays in their growth
  • Poor immune health
  • Upset stomachs
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Loss of appetite

Worried your child has low zinc levels? Test for any imbalances.

Zinc Citrate | Vital Nutrients

Ensure your little one grows up big and strong with this gentle form of zinc citrate. This formula is easily absorbed by, and suitable for little bodies. As well as supporting growth, it also enhances immunity, lifts mood and improves antioxidant activity.


Does my child need supplements to support their immunity?

When your child’s immune system is under extra pressure, it’s a good idea to add some immune-boosters to their supplement routine.

You may want to provide them with extra immune support when they return to school, during the winter months, when they’re taking a course of antibiotics, or before going on holiday.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C strengthens your kids’ immune and respiratory systems. It supports the absorption of zinc, for well-rounded immune support. Rich in antioxidants, vitamin C reduces oxidative stress and emotional stress, boosting their overall wellbeing.

Vitamin C Gummies | Nordic Naturals 

These tangerine flavoured gummies ensure your child gets a generous serving of vitamin C every day, for stronger immune health as well as added pollution protection from antioxidants.

C Complete Powder | Innate

This synergistic union of vitamin C and flavonoids maximises your kids’ immunity, nourishing their respiratory system and alleviating stress for a strong immune response. This antioxidant rich formula is perfect for the whole family, as its powder format makes it simple to alter doses.



This sweet, soothing herbal elixir has been used for centuries to promote a stronger immunity. Elderberry also provides your child with additional support from a range of immune boosting nutrients and antioxidants.

Black Elderberry Daily Gummies | Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs have distilled the goodness of elderberries into a convenient, tasty gummy. These gummies provide your little one’s immune system with the support they need to stay fighting fit.

GaiaKids Black Elderberry Syrup | Gaia Herbs

This elderberry tonic works magic on your kids’ immunity, boosting their respiratory and immune systems. It also provides your child with an additional boost of vitamin C from Acerola cherries.


Could my child overdose on supplements?

Taking vitamin and mineral supplements is a great way to ensure that your kids are getting all the nutrition they need, and though it’s highly unlikely your child could overdose on supplements, there are a few ingredients you need to look out for.

These are iron, calcium and vitamins A, D, E and K. It’s a good idea to look at all the supplements your child takes in one day and add up all the quantities of these nutrients. As long as their daily doses don’t exceed the values in the table below, it’s completely safe for them to take supplements.


5 - 25mg per day


90 -1,000mg per day

Vitamin A

300 - 2,000mcg per day

Vitamin D

300 - 2,000IU per day

Vitamin E

30 - 900mg per day

Vitamin K

10 - 100mcg per day

Always make sure you store gummy supplements out of your kids’ reach. If you catch them with their hand in the supplement jar, sneaking an extra one from time to time, then they’ll likely be fine. But, if you suspect they ate a large quantity of vitamins, you should consult your healthcare practitioner.


In summary

As parents, we want to make sure our kids are getting the best start in life. We know that means eating a healthy diet, but sometimes nutrient-poor produce and our fast-paced lifestyles mean that nutritional gaps are inevitable. Supplementing to fill those gaps is the best way to ensure your child is getting all they need for a healthy mind and body.



[1] I B Helland, L Smith, K Saarem, O D Saugstad, C A Drevon, Maternal supplementation with very long-chain n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation augments children’s IQ at 4 years of age, 2003.
[2]A Dalton, P Wolmarans, R C Witthuhn, M E van Stuijvenberg, S A Swanvelder, C M Smuts, A randomised control trial in schoolchildren showed improvement in cognitive function, 2008.
[3] R K McNamara, J Able, R Jandacek, T Rider, P Tso, J C Eliassen, D Alfieri, W Weber, K Jarvis, M P DelBello, S M Strakowski, C M Adler, Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation increases prefrontal cortex activation during sustained attention in healthy boys: a placebo-controlled, dose-ranging, functional magnetic resonance imaging study, 2010.
[4]H Nemets, B Nemets, A Apter, Z Bracha, R H Belmaker, Omega-3 treatment of childhood depression: a controlled, double-blind pilot study, 2006.
[5] J G LeBlanc, C Milani, G Savoy de Giori, F Sesma, D van Sinderen, M Ventura, Bacteria as vitamin suppliers to their host: a gut microbiota perspective, 2021.
[6] F Yan, D B Polk, Probiotics and immune health, 2014.
[7] P S Yip, V W-Y Chan, Q K-Y Lee, H-M Lee, Diet quality and eating behavioural patterns in preschool Hong Kong children, 2017.
[8] P S Yip, V W-Y Chan, Q K-Y Lee, H-M Lee, Diet quality and eating behavioural patterns in preschool Hong Kong children, 2017.
[9] World Health Organisation, Evaluating the public health significance of micronutrient malnutrition.
[10] National Health Service, Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, 2019.
[11] P S Yip, V W-Y Chan, Q K-Y Lee, H-M Lee, Diet quality and eating behavioural patterns in preschool Hong Kong children, 2017.
[12] World Health Organisation, Zinc supplementation and growth in children, 2013.
[13] K H Brown, J M Peerson, J Rivera, L H Allen, Effect of supplemental zinc on the growth and serum zinc concentrations of prepubertal children, 2002.