Keeping kids healthy
Cathy Carlson-Rink, RM, ND
What is the best supplement for kids? Vitamin D enhances absorption of calcium, reduces bone breakdown, and prevents rickets.
Do you have memories of cringing away from a spoonful of cod liver oil? Luckily for your children, today’s products are not only healthy; some of them actually taste good.
Many natural health professionals agree that although a solid nutritional base should be a parent’s first concern, the modern diet often does not provide the optimum amount of nutrients required for good health. So, here are a few products you might want to pick up at your local natural health store.
Children’s multivitamin formulas are specially formulated to meet a growing body’s needs. They often contain extra calcium for strong bones and teeth. Supplemental calcium is especially important if a child has dairy allergies or is on a vegan diet and can’t rely on dairy sources for calcium intake.
Take care to hide those fun-shaped chewables or gummies as children are likely to mistake them for candy and smuggle more.
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are crucial for the growth and development of a child’s neural and sensory systems. A lack of omega-3s in particular has been associated with dyslexia, learning disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
EFAs are derived from nuts, flaxseeds, hempseeds, and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, or tuna. If you’re considering adding a fish oil supplement to your child’s diet, ensure the product has been tested and is free of fat-stored contaminants such as heavy metals and PCBs.
Bacteria for babies? Yes, in fact. Friendly bacteria are vital for a healthy gastrointestinal system and can help alleviate diarrhea and lactose intolerance. Probiotics can also help the body’s natural immunity at a time when kids are running, touching, and tasting everything in sight.
Antibiotics are often to blame for throwing off the bacteria balance in the gut, so if your child has been on medication, try rebalancing with probiotics, which are available in powder, liquid, tablet, and capsule forms. Specific strains to enhance infant and toddler microflora include B. infantis, B. bifidum, and B. breve.
It’s not only adults who have inadequate vitamin D levels, especially in northern regions. It’s kids, too. Last year the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported low levels of vitamin D in over half of children (55 percent) between six and 21 years old. During the winter months, 68 percent received inadequate vitamin D.
A fat-soluble vitamin, D is essential for forming and maintaining healthy bones and muscles, strengthening immunity, and preventing diseases such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.
To reduce the frequency of colds, flu, and infection, an extra-protective herbal formula may be just the ticket. Ingredients used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine, such as astragalus and codonopsis, can enhance the production of the immune system’s white blood cells and boost immunity.
Also used to reduce symptoms of colds and ear infections, echinacea products specially formulated for children are handy to keep in the medicine cabinet.