Vitamin C For Kids: Why Do They Need It And What's The Dosage

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Children need 25mg to 45mg vitamin C every day, depending on their age. When your child takes the vitamin in the right amount, it improves their immunity and propels their growth.

Is your child getting adequate vitamin C every day? What would happen in the case of deficiency and how can you increase its consumption?

MomJunction answers these questions and also tells you more about vitamin C for kids. Read on.

Why Should Your Child Take Vitamin C?

You should make sure that your child’s diet contains vitamin C because human bodies cannot produce this micronutrient endogenously (from within).

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient, which means that its excess quantity doesn’t stay in the body but gets washed out. This makes it necessary for the child to take it every day.
The daily intake benefits the child in more ways than one. Let’s see what they are.

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What Are The Benefits Of Vitamin C For Children?

Vitamin C helps keep your child healthy and strong. Here are some of the ways it is useful (1), (2):

  • Heals wounds by helping in the formation of collagen
  • Prevents infections because it is an efficient water-soluble antioxidant
  • Maintains good bone structure again due to its support to the collagen
  • The antioxidants and collagen formation properties help keep the skin healthy
  • Supports protein metabolism
  • Improves iron absorption by preventing the formation of insoluble and unabsorbable iron compounds
  • Added to the biosynthetic and antioxidant properties, vitamin C plays a crucial role in strengthening immunity

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[ Read: Vitamin E For Kids ]

Does vitamin C treat a cold?

The answer is yes and no because the result may vary from child to child (3). Vitamin C does not prevent the cold but can cut-short the longevity, and also reduce the severity of the symptoms. However, it may not work if you begin taking vitamin C after the onset of the cold.

Your child needs to take high amounts of the vitamin for it to have an effect on cold. But the other above-mentioned benefits can be reaped with the right quantities of the micronutrient.

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How Much Vitamin C Does Your Child Need?

Here is the age-wise daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C for kids (4):

1–3 years15mg15mg
4–8 years25mg25mg
9–13 years45mg45mg
14–18 years75mg65mg

Vitamin C is abundantly available in a variety of foods.

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[ Read: Vitamin A Benefits For Children ]

What Are The Sources Of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is found in different fruits and vegetables, such as (5), (6):

  • Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Blackcurrants
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwis
  • Grapefruit
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Green peas
  • Green, yellow and red pepper
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Broccoli
  • Guava

Some other sources of vitamin C are cereals, bread, oats, noodles, rice, pasta, polenta, tofu, fish, lean meats, eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Vitamin C is available in several foods and hence its deficiency is rare. However, it cannot be ruled out in children, who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke may also have a deficiency.

If you are concerned that your child is not getting sufficient dose of vitamin C, check for any deficiency symptoms.

[ Read: Calcium Rich Foods For Kids ]

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What Are The Symptoms Of Vitamin C Deficiency?

Here are they (7):

  • Wounds take unusually long time to heal
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Hyperkeratosis (abnormal thickening of the outer layer of the skin)
  • Frequent cold and cough
  • Feel fatigued
  • Low immunity
  • Dry hair with splits
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Tooth enamel erosion
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bleeding nose

Prolonged deficiency of vitamin C can result in scurvy, but that is more common in adults than in children.

If you suspect this deficiency in your child, take them to a doctor for a thorough diagnosis.

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[ Read: Vitamin B For Kids ]

How Is Vitamin C Deficiency Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually done for individuals, who show gingival or skin signs (8).

  • The doctor might recommend a blood test done to check the child’s vitamin C levels.
  • An x-ray can help detect scurvy in children.
  • Some academic centers measure the blood ascorbic acid in lab tests.

The doctor will suggest a treatment based on the results of the tests.

But do not overfeed your child with vitamin C or give them supplements without consulting your doctor. If taken in excess, this micronutrient can have side-effects.

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What Are The Side-Effects Of Excess Vitamin C?

The side effects of excess vitamin C are very rare and few cases have been reported so far. This is because the body flushes out the unused vitamin C content. Here are some problems your child can face due to the interaction of unabsorbed vitamin C in the gastrointestinal tract:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence

Vitamin C is one the most important micronutrients required for a child. The good thing is that it is adequately available in the foods, and these food sources are tasty to eat. Your child wouldn’t complain having them in their diet.

[ Read: Zinc Benefits For Children ]

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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more