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Data show that children engage in complementary health practices. Data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey showed that among children ages 4 to 17, use of selected practices, such as yoga and meditation, increased during the past 12 months. The survey also showed that girls’ use of yoga was more than twice that of similarly aged boys. If you’re considering taking up one or more of these practices, it’s a good idea to talk with your physician about it. Tell your child's health care providers about any complementary or integrative approach you are considering or using for your child. The survey data revealed that older children (ages 12 to 17) were more likely to have used meditation and a chiropractor in the past 12 months than younger children (ages 4 to 11 years). 

Many children also take dietary supplements, and most of these products are not recommended by a health care provider. In a 2013 analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers found that 31 percent of children reported using dietary supplements during the past month (the majority of these were multivitamin-mineral or multivitamin products) primarily to improve overall health.  

Some supplements consumed by children/teens include those promoted for weight loss, muscle building, and energy, and potentially have greater health risks than vitamins. Taking too much of some supplements, such as vitamins A or D, can have unwelcome side effects. 

Finally, it’s important to realize that vaccines help protect infants, children, and teens from serious diseases. Additionally, getting children vaccinated protects others and can keep family members from getting sick.i 


i Vaccines for infants, children, and teens.

For More Information

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226

Telecommunications relay service (TRS): 7-1-1


Email: (link sends email)

Know the Science

NCCIH and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide tools to help you understand the basics and terminology of scientific research so you can make well-informed decisions about your health. Know the Science features a variety of materials, including interactive modules, quizzes, and videos, as well as links to informative content from Federal resources designed to help consumers make sense of health information.

Explaining How Research Works (NIH)

Know the Science: How To Make Sense of a Scientific Journal Article

Understanding Clinical Studies (NIH)


A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.


This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: March 2019