Supplements fill the void
Cathy Carlson-Rink, RM, ND
What is the best supplement for kids? Vitamin D enhances absorption of calcium, reduces bone breakdown, and prevents rickets.
Most children, given a choice about what we put on their plates, wouldn’t choose broccoli and cauliflower over cupcakes and candy. Though we try to feed them all the right things, children can be picky eaters.
It makes sense, then, to add a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to their routine. But the choices can be confusing, and getting children to take a supplement may be a challenge. Here is some information to help you make the right choice.
Children are Not Mini Adults
Children’s and adults’ needs differ. In children, needs focus on laying the foundation for strong bones and teeth, building a healthy immune system, and preparing for puberty. Think of childhood as the investment years to not only ensure good health, but also set the stage for preventing disease in the adult years.
Because children have smaller livers than adults, they have a reduced ability to process vitamins and minerals. For safe, long-term use, children’s vitamins and minerals should be in lower doses than for adults.
Key Nutrients for Growth
Our children only have one chance to grow, so key nutrients are needed for optimum results.
Calcium is required for developing strong bones–90 percent of bone mass is laid down by age 17. Not only are many children not getting enough calcium–only 19 percent of girls and 52 percent of boys–but they’re not getting enough of other critical co-factors, such as vitamin D, in their diet for bone growth.
Vitamin A assists in protein synthesis, helps bone cells mature, and helps lay down the enamel layer in teeth.
Mixed carotenoids are potent antioxidants that support the immune system, maintain skin and eye function, and help with the growth and repair of tissue.
B vitamins help the body with energy production, brain and nervous system function, and stimulate a good appetite. Children are often deficient because the main sources are vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
Vitamin C plays an important role in forming collagen in the bones as well as in maintaining healthy gums, teeth, skin, and blood vessels. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also reduces allergies and heals wounds. Since it’s involved in collagen formation, vitamin C glues cells together and prevents foreign organisms from penetrating this first line of defence.
Vitamin D is the most crucial vitamin in childhood; it enhances the absorption of calcium, reduces bone breakdown, and prevents rickets. It is also involved in regulating cell growth and maturation, blood sugar, and immune function.
Vitamin E protects the essential fatty acids in our cell walls, preventing damage. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory and increases our resistance to infection. Look for vitamin E derived from 100 percent natural mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Quality is Important
Check the ingredient label carefully. The sugar content of many chewable supplements can be high and has been linked with tooth decay. Liquid supplements are a good alternative as they do not require any breakdown by the digestive tract and are easy to absorb. Look for natural supplements with no artificial preservatives, refined sugar, or food colouring.
While you may not convince your child that broccoli is fun, you can fill a nutrient void with a well-chosen multivitamin and mineral supplement.
What Children are Not Eating
A study by the US Department of Agriculture found that on any given day
How to Help the Supplement Go Down
If your child isn’t swallowing the importance of that daily supplement, here are a few tips that might help: