Vitamins, Minerals, Omegas for Kids
Since I am a “Lectin Free Mama,” people sometimes approach me for advice on which supplements they should consider giving their children. I’m never comfortable making recommendations–I’m not a doctor. However, I am comfortable revealing what has worked for us.
Most of the time, especially in the summer months, my daughter doesn’t take any supplements. When we start to get into cold and flu season, however, I may give her something for added support. Of course, we work with her doctor and I encourage all readers to do the same before starting their child on a supplement.
Which Nutritional Supplements do Kids Really Need?
Ideally, kids acquire most of their nutritional fuel from a healthy, balanced diet. That is to say, as much organic, hormone-free, and GMO-free foods as possible. Even with such a diet there can still be nutrient deficits. Let’s understand why these deficits occur and why vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are important for kids’ health. In addition, let’s explore which nutritional supplements kids are most likely to benefit from.
Nutrient Deficits in a World of Plenty
Most parents know the top two reasons for a nutrient deficit in a child’s diet. One is having a picky eater. Secondly, as kids spend more time with peers, they have greater opportunity for poor quality food choices.
Other important reasons that contribute to nutrient deficits in the diet include:
- Busy lifestyles leading families to eat more convenience foods that are low in nutrients.
- Kids not consuming enough servings of fruits and veggies each day.
- Kids experiencing more stress at school and in sports. This increases the body’s nutrient needs and demand for high quality “food energy” sources.
- Increased amounts of toxins in the environment stressing the body’s natural detoxification processes and creating a higher demand for nutrients that sustain health and vitality.
- Chemicals used in conventional farming and food production depleting the mineral content and nutrient density of our food supply.
- Food allergies, acute illness, chronic health conditions, and certain medications affecting the absorption of nutrients.
How Nutrients Work to Enhance Kids Health
Every biochemical process in the body—from growing teeth to repairing muscles after injury and recovering from illness—relies upon vitamins, minerals and other key nutrients. Vitamins and minerals, in particular, are catalysts that make things happen in each body system. They are absolutely essential to a child’s physical and emotional health.
Essential Nutritional Supplements for Kids
Every child has unique health needs. Knowing which nutrient, how much, for how long, and in what form (e.g., capsule, liquid) is best determined by consulting with a naturopathic doctor who specializes in children’s health. The following are the essential nutritional supplements that most kids can benefit from. This is a starting point for discussion with your child’s physician.
There are many different vitamins and minerals involved in innumerable physiological functions. For example, B vitamins help cells release energy and support the nervous system. Vitamin C helps the body fight infection. Likewise, vitamin D supports bone and immune health.
–> I use: Mary Ruth’s liquid multivitamin
A good quality multi-mineral includes an array of trace minerals such as zinc, iron, potassium and calcium. Calcium helps the body form bones. Iron is important for making red blood cells. Potassium is involved in muscle contraction and the health of the heart. Zinc supports the immune system.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Also known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), this nutrient is “essential” because the body cannot make it. It is necessary for protection against inflammation and joint and muscle pain. The brain thrives on Omega-3. Without enough, we can experience learning problems, memory issues, and depression. In a supplement, Omega-3 has to be in balanced ration to the Omega-6 fatty acid.
–> I use: Carlson kid’s Norwegian cod liver oil
A balanced gastrointestinal system plays a critical role in protecting your child from illness. An imbalance in gastrointestinal (GI) flora can result from poor diet, stress, use of antibiotics, illness and food allergies. Probiotics support the growth of friendly gut bacteria and help protect against diseases such as eczema, allergies, digestive conditions, and yeast infections. A child’s probiotic ideally contains multi-strand organisms.
–> I use: Mary Ruth’s liquid probiotic
Above all, remember a child’s nutrient needs are very different from an adult so they shouldn’t be given products formulated for adults. Consult with a trusted natural medicine physician so you can be confident that the product you’re giving your child has been properly formulated, labeled, and tested for quality and purity.
Adapted from The Unvaccinated Child: A Treatment Guide for Parents and Caregivers by Judith Thompson, ND and Eli Camp, ND, DHANP. (2018) Vital Health Publishing.
- Linus Pauling Institute “Micronutrient Inadequacies.” Accessed 18 June 2018: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies
- Pizzorno, Joseph E. Textbook of Natural Medicine (4thEd).(2013) St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
- Belkaid Y, and TW Hand. 2014. “Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation”. Cell. 157 (1): 121-41.
- Dudley, D., W. Cotton, and L. Peralta. “Teaching Approaches and Strategies That Promote Healthy Eating in Primary School Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity12 (2015): 28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4416340/
- HelpGuide. “Nutrition for Children and Teens.” Updated June 2015. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/nutrition-for-children-and-teens.htm