What nutrients, vitamins and minerals are on your list of “the Greene 13”?


I heard you give a talk about kids’ nutrition. You mentioned the list of nutrients that kids aren’t getting enough of in their diet. In my notes I have “the Greene 13”, but I wasn’t able to take notes fast enough to write them all down. What are they? By the way, great talk!
Palo Alto, CA

Dr. Greene's Answer

By some estimates, 98% of kids don’t regularly eat the recommended number of servings of different food groups each day. As a result, even though the typical American child eats too many calories, the typical child is getting suboptimal levels of many key nutrients. There are thirteen major, named micronutrients, that I’ve labeled “the Greene 13”, that concern me the most:

  1. Calcium
  2. Fiber
  3. Folic acid
  4. Iron
  5. Magnesium
  6. Omega 3 fatty acids (especially DHA)
  7. Phosphorous (except for kids who drink carbonated beverages and get too much)
  8. Potassium
  9. Vitamin A
  10. Vitamin C
  11. Vitamin D
  12. Vitamin E
  13. Zinc

Most kids don’t get enough of at least one of these. One in six girls get iron at levels low enough to affect their test scores. Seven out of ten boys and nine out of ten girls don’t get enough calcium at key times of growth.

A daily multivitamin is more than a safety net for occasional nutritional accidents. It is more similar to spackle to fill in the nutritional holes, gaps, and cracks that many children develop every day because they fall into the 98% of kids who don’t eat a diverse amount of real foods. And beyond this a multivitamin can help a child thrive.

Published on: July 17, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

how old does your child need to be before you start them on a multi vitamin?

Hi Dr. Greene,

What is your opinion on this, “Multivitamins are waste of money” by John Hopkins Doctors
They cause more harm than good.