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What is the main role of vitamins and which foods contain them?

Vitamin A contributes to the normal growth and repair of tissues and bones. It also contributes to the health of the eyes, the skin but also to the development of the immune system. Some foods that are rich in vitamin A are: liver, egg yolk and butter. Provitamin A (beta-carotene), which is a form of vitamin A, is found in carrots, sweet potatoes and green vegetables. 

The complex of B vitamins is very important for the health of the human body. The complex of B vitamins promotes metabolism, energy production and good health of the circulatory and nervous systems. Some foods that are rich in B vitamins are meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, beans, soy. 

Vitamin C contributes to healthy muscles, connective tissue and skin. Sources rich in vitamin C are: citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes and green vegetables. 

Vitamin D helps form bones and teeth and helps absorb calcium from food. Foods rich in vitamin D are: milk, fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. The ideal source of vitamin D is sunlight. 

Do we need to give children vitamins?

Many times, parents want their pediatrician to prescribe vitamins to help with their child’s appetite. Unfortunately, there is no such product. Vitamins are given only in cases when the child’s pediatrician deems it necessary. 

All international child health organizations agree that most healthy children do not need vitamin supplements unless they have a chronic illness and are growing up normally. 

A balanced diet that includes the four basic food groups can adequately meet children’s needs for vitamins and minerals. The four main categories of food are: 


Milk and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. It is important to emphasize that low-fat dairy products are given after the age of 2 years.

Fresh fruits and vegetables.

Protein foods such as chicken, fish, meat, eggs.

Cereals such as bread, spaghetti, oats, rice.

When can it be helpful to give vitamins to children?

Vitamins may be helpful for your child in the following situations: 


The child has a chronic illness (e.g. cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, malabsorption syndrome, etc.).

The child is allergic to a food that cannot be replaced with another food.

If the child follows a strict vegetarian diet (vegan diet).

The child has a delay in their physical and mental development.

It is important to discuss with your pediatrician your concerns about your child’s nutrition. The pediatrician in turn will receive a detailed history of the child’s daily diet. At the same time, they will examine the child and evaluate their growth rate. Accordinglythey will decide if they need to administer vitamin supplements. 

When do we need to take specific vitamins?


Children with measles are given one or two doses of vitamin A depending on the geographical area (there are similar guidelines from the World Health Organization).

B12 is administered to children on a vegetarian diet.

Vitamin K is given to all newborns to prevent bleeding newborn disease.


Foods are the best source of vitamins. A balanced diet with regular meals and snacks is the golden rule for children to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need. The required amounts of vitamins needed for the growing organism are not large and are usually covered with small amounts of food. It is up to you as parents to nurture the right eating habits. Remember that no vitamin supplement can replace a balanced diet. 

Authored by Dr. Adamos Hadjipanayi, Paediatrician