Family Friday: Top Supplements for Healthy Kids

Second Friday of the month:  Health & Wellness / Parenting

Did you drink your vitamins?
Everyday, I was reminded to take my multi-vitamins. The fact that I am not sickly as a child, and until now as an adult, proved that the supplements did work for me.  Having kids of my own, I know that providing a proper diet and right combination of food supplements will fill the needs of my children's developing minds and growing bodies, while boosting their immune system for optimal health.
My favorite chewable vitamins as a kid
I honestly think it is impossible to provide a child, or anyone, a balanced nutrition solely from the foods we eat. All the more challenging when you have a child with special diet needs. Well, special diet foods are a different story altogether and would need its own post!  For now, I'll focus on nutritional supplements.

My online search led me to this essential guide to supplements for kids, which I am sharing with you below.

Top 10 Supplements for Healthy Kids by Natasha Turner, ND
(Lifted from www.truestarhealth.com)

A full-spectrum multivitamin and mineral product in a highly absorbable form is essential to ensure the foundation of health. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for proper growth, metabolism, digestion, immune system function, muscle and nerve function and detoxification processes in the liver. Scientific studies have shown that the majority of us are deficient in many essential nutrients because of poor dietary habits and other factors which may deplete nutrient levels such as caffeine, drugs, stress or pollution. A daily multivitamin can help to keep your child’s energy and concentration levels at their best.

(My kids take VitaZinc, multivitamin syrup fortified with zinc.)

Acidophilus is the friendly bacteria that live in our digestive tract. Healthy bacterial balance in our digestive tract is easily affected by poor dietary habits and by the use of medications, such as corticosteroids and antibiotics. Everyone can benefit from the use of probiotics for healthy digestion and immunity. Acidophilus has also been found useful in the treatment and prevention of skin conditions and allergies. Children in daycare who take acidophilus supplements are found to have less frequent colds, flu and ear infections.

(The kids enjoy frozen yogurt treats and fruit-flavored yogurt drinks for snacks.)

VITAMIN C with Bioflavonoids
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and a natural antihistamine and it also helps speed wound healing. Vitamin C’s immune-enhancing effect makes it essential in preventing infection as well as in shortening the duration of an illness. To maximize effectiveness vitamin C is best taken with bioflavonoids in divided dosages spaced throughout the day. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which is safe even at high doses. It may act as a natural laxative in certain individuals, so be sure to increase the dose slowly. Try chewables—they are a great way to get your kids to take the vitamin C they need to stay healthy and free of colds!

(Ceelin has always been my kids' vitamin C syrup since they were babies.)

EPA / DHA Fish Oils
Healthy types of oils are necessary in the formation of every cell in the body. Eicosapentaenoic acid EPA and docosahexaenoic acid DHA (the components of essential fatty acids) are natural anti-inflammatory agents. Their anti-inflammatory action makes them useful in treating and preventing heart disease and they also have beneficial effects on cholesterol, triglycerides and on the tendency of blood to clot. Essential fatty acids help to moisten the skin and improve bowel function. Symptoms of depression, ADD/ADHD, schizophrenia and memory loss may improve with essential fatty acid supplements. Finally, fish oils are also very useful for the treatment and prevention of skin conditions like dry winter itch, eczema or psoriasis.

(I give my kids Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil, the best brand for me.)

Nordic Naturals - Children's Dha, 360 softgels

ZINC Citrate
Research has found that many children and young adults with ADHD/ADD are deficient in zinc. Zinc is found in the brain's hippocampus and interacts with other chemicals to send messages to the sensory brain center, enhancing memory and thinking skills. It has a significant effect on visual memory, learning, emotional and behavioral state and overall cognitive function. A deficiency may result in learning impairments, poor memory and emotional and behavioral problems.
A study carried out on 135 males aged between 3 and 20 with a history of aggressive behavior found that many of the subjects were likely to have high levels of copper and low levels of zinc compared with non-aggressive people. Zinc and copper compete for absorption. Because of this inverse relationship, zinc supplements can be effective for lowering copper levels. Proper mineral balance is essential for the production of chemical signals in the brain that influence behavior. Both copper and zinc tend to be concentrated in the hippocampus of the brain, which is the area known to be associated with stress response.
Since it usually takes two to three months to overcome a copper-zinc imbalance, treatment with zinc supplements should be continued for a minimum of four months before determining effectiveness. Zinc deficiency can result from exposure to heavy metal toxins, such as cadmium (usually from exposure to cigarette smoke) and lead, which prevent its absorption. Poor dietary habits such as excessive consumption of sugar or carbohydrates are also known to reduce zinc absorption.

Magnesium is a trace mineral the body needs to function properly. A deficiency of this mineral has been linked to attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children. In one study from Poland, children with ADHD were found to be more deficient than control subjects in a number of bio-elements. Of all the bio-elements, magnesium deficiencies were the most pronounced. Magnesium supplements can promote relaxation, focus, attention and restful sleep.

(In lieu of oral supplement, on occasion, I put magnesium sulfate/Epsom salt in their bath for a warm, relaxing detox in the tub.)

Much of the gray matter of the brain is made up of fat, specifically the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The essential fatty acids recommended in this plan contain higher amounts of DHA which has been found in studies to protect and maintain healthy brain cell function because of its important role in the composition of the protective covering (myelin) around nerves. Daily oral supplementing of DHA has been shown to increase blood levels of DHA, to protect myelin and to improve the signaling of chemical messages between nerve cells in the brain. This often improves the symptoms of some mental and visual disorders. Children who take fish oils are calmer and have been found to be more productive in school.

A flavonoid compound from apples and onions, quercetin has natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin is best taken with vitamin C mixed with bioflavonoids as this improves the antihistamine effect. Vitamin C alone may also have beneficial effects on histamine levels by preventing histamine release from cells and by improving the breakdown of histamine.

Healthy Immunity HERBAL Combo
For sneezing, colds, the flu or general immunity improvement, an herbal product that contains echinacea and other immunity-boosting herbs is a great way to shorten the duration of an illness as well as prevent the development of new ones. It is always best to increase immune system function rather than treat an infection that has already appeared. Echinacea is safe for the whole family to use, so be sure to use it when there are a lot of infections at school or work to keep you and your family free from illness.

(Dr. Natasha Turner is a naturopathic doctor based in Toronto. She is the author of 'The Hormone Diet'. Get more health advise from Dr. Turner here)

I also have this pocket book, The Essential Guide To Supplements by Nicola Reavely, which provides recommended daily intakes of vitamins, as well as lists of benefits from herbal medicines. To quote from the book:
"Vitamins and minerals are essential for sustaining life. They are necessary for growth, vitality and general well-being. An inadequate intake of nutrients leads to deficiency and diseases.  
If you skip meals, are under stress, eat a special diet or have particular nutritional needs, you will benefit from taking vitamin, mineral and other supplements such as antioxidants, fatty acids and herbal medicines."
Just remember to consult your doctors first before taking supplements and giving any nutritional products to your children.

Brands featured above are the ones we take (used). I am not endorsing any of the above products. Choose brands that best fit the nutritional needs of you family.

The Essential Guide to Supplements by Nicola Reavely

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