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What supplements do you give your children (if at all?)

When my son was 4, I tried giving him nutritional supplements to make up for his appalling diet. I mixed fish oil into his orange juice. I let him eat candylike gummy multivitamins. And I stirred a chocolate powder containing 31 fruit and vegetable extracts into his milk.

It eased my worries, but experts disagree on whether supplements do any good.

“An appropriate diet should cover all needs,” said Dr. Steven Daniels, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on nutrition. Parents of picky eaters may be concerned, he said, but the worry “is often misplaced because kids are growing and developing normally.”

But how many kids eat an “appropriate” diet? Dr. Kathi Kemper, who chairs the holistic and integrative medicine department at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, often recommends a multivitamin or fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, because “people have a funny idea what a healthy diet actually is,” she said. Surveys show that 99 percent of American children do not meet the recommended daily allowance for one or more essential nutrients, Kemper said.

If you do use supplements, look for children’s brands. Avoid large doses of anything; some nutrients, such as iron and vitamin A, can become toxic. Also note that supplements are not standardized and quality is not well-regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Here’s a guide to some of the more common supplements: