Multivitamins and Food Allergy

Should kids with food allergies take a supplement?. John Lamb/Digital Vision/Getty Images

One of the trickiest parts of managing food allergies is making sure you get enough vitamins and minerals, preferably from the food you eat. If you have multiple food allergies, this becomes even harder.


Because having a food allergy means eliminating certain foods from your diet, and some of the foods provide key nutrients for your health.

Let’s take a look at a couple of them:

Milk/Dairy: From milk to yogurt, milk and dairy products provide an important source of calcium and may offer good amounts of vitamin D, both of which are crucial to bone health.

Wheat: Rich in B vitamins, iron and zinc, wheat and wheat products offer these plus other important nutrients like fiber, which help you stay healthy and energized.

Fish: Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are important to health and your immunity.

Other food allergens such as egg, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts also provide important nutrients but can be met by a healthy array of foods and a well-planned diet.

When you have multiple food allergies, such as milk, egg and wheat, the ability to cover all the needed nutrients for growth (a child) or health (a child or adult) becomes more difficult, and a multivitamin supplement may help bridge the nutrient gaps.

Vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids are known to be deficient micronutrients in children with food allergies. Trace elements including zinc, selenium and magnesium may also be of concern.

A group of researchers from the UK set out to understand the rates of micronutrient deficiency in children aged 4 weeks to 16 years with food allergies.

They found the following:

Based on a 3-day food diary to assess overall micronutrient intake, they found that no child in the whole group had a deficient vitamin C intake, and low intakes of vitamin B12, B6, thiamine and folate were rare.

Sixty percent of the group (110 study participants) had a low vitamin D intake, and low zinc, copper, and selenium were also seen in some patients.

The researchers also looked at micronutrient supplementation and found:

Almost 30% of children received vitamin and/or mineral supplementation.

More children received a vitamin and/or mineral supplement when they were on alternative over-the-counter milks (i.e. coconut, oat or rice milk), which were nutritionally incomplete.

Seventy-five percent of children on supplements avoided at least 2 food allergens, with cow’s milk, soy and a combination of cow’s milk, soya, egg, wheat and others being the most common foods eliminated.

What we can learn from this study

Assessing the adequacy of the food allergy diet for micronutrients is hard, if not impossible in the clinical setting where a food allergic child might visit with a registered dietitian. Time is short, and getting a complete and accurate description of the usual diet relies heavily on accurate reporting by the caretaker.

Many children in this study were using micronutrient supplements and didn’t need them, while others who did need them were not getting them.

Figuring out who is best served by a multivitamin and mineral supplement is best done by nutrition professionals and on a routine, annual basis.

Routine supplementation is probably a good idea when more than one food allergy exists. The authors in this study concluded that children with food allergies should consider routine vitamin and/or mineral supplements because deficient intake is so common, especially for vitamin D, calcium, zinc and selenium. It’s nearly impossible to find a multivitamin/mineral supplement with enough calcium to make a difference, so focus on other foods which provide good levels of calcium, or find an alternative calcium supplement.

If you're worried about giving your child too much, especially of Vitamin A, you can relax a bit. This study suggests the risk of toxicity using a supplement in doses reflecting the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) were low and not of clinical (real) significance.


Meyer R et al. A practical approach to vitamin and mineral supplementation in food allergic chidlren.  Clinical and Translational Allergy 2015; 5:11.

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