If your child comes up short on the weekly tally and you can’t find a way to get more calcium-rich foods onto the menu, talk to your pediatrician. If you decide to add a supplement, look for one that contains vitamin D, which we need to help absorb calcium. (We used to get it from exposure to sunlight, but now that we’re slathering on sunscreen, vitamin D deficiency has become a big problem in this country.) D3 — or cholecalciferol — is the most potent form of D, so always look for it on the bottle.

Viactiv calcium chews come in a variety of flavors and tend to be well accepted by children of all ages. On the other hand, if your child has braces or is anything like my 14-year-old daughter, Jesse, who will not go near a chewy, you can resort to a pill. And if your child cannot swallow a pill, you can mash up one “Caltrate 600 plus D” and mix it in vanilla yogurt or pudding.

Fiber

Fiber is also important for kids: Fiber-rich foods help regulate weight and mood, and they help prevent constipation. A great rule for determining how much daily fiber your child needs is “age + 5 grams.” For example, a ten-year-old child requires about 15 g of fiber a day.

First and foremost, try to increase fiber through kid-friendly whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. High-fiber breakfast cereals and grains are an easy way to provide a fiber fix. But if your child is struggling with chronic constipation and requires an extra dose, talk to your pediatrician about adding a fiber supplement.

Few Fiber Supplements

  • Benefiber powder
  • Juice+Fibre (10 g fiber per 8-ounce box)
  • Now’s Inulin Powder (found at Trader Joe’s)

Last but not least, make sure your kids brush their teeth after taking chewable vitamins. Do not leave vitamins or any other supplements within reach of children. And be sure to talk to your child’s doctor before you begin any vitamin or supplement routine.