The topic has medical experts come down on both sides of the question of whether to supplement children’s diets with a multivitamin.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that giving a child a daily vitamin is usually only necessary if he or she is a picky eater, have signs of deficiency or is a strict vegetarian. Others in the field believe that a good daily multi-vitamin is a good way to fill the nutritional gaps in anyone’s diet. Of course, taking a vitamin is not supposed to be a replacement for healthy eating, but especially for growing bodies, a daily multi-vitamin can act as a nutritional safety net to ensure optimal physical growth and brain development.
Many natural health practitioners believe that supplementing a child’s diet with a daily multivitamin is necessary, simply because children, as with the rest of us, are bombarded with toxins from the environment, they consume fast foods, foods grown in depleted soil, and are more likely to consume high levels of sugary, calorie dense but nutritionally bankrupt foods.
The Vitamin Relief USA incentive distributes vitamins free of charge to homeless and poor children in the U.S. This program, since 1999, has assisted children who are at risk for nutritional deficiencies that may impair brain development, stunt physical growth, lower resistance to disease and allow children to be susceptible to chronic conditions.
The program is in 39 states and serves over 14,000 children in over 550 locations. Teachers, parents and others involved with the program report that children achieve higher grades, behave more socially, require fewer trips to the doctor, and have better school attendance when taking the daily vitamins. You can visit www.vitaminrelief.org to find out more about this program and about vitamins generally.
Some caveats about kid’s vitamins.
You should never exceed the recommended dosages on the label.
You should store the vitamins in a cool, dark, dry spot so they last until their expiration date.
Don’t take or give expired vitamins to yourself or your kids.
Don’t buy vitamins that are full of sugar, artificial colors, and flavors and chemicals. We are trying to get and stay healthy, not add another junky thing to the diet.
Also, as with all pills, keep the vitamins out of reach of children.
As children mature and develop, their nutritional requirements of vitamins and minerals vary. Infants of course, do best on breast milk or vitamin enriched formula when breast milk is not feasible. Breast fed babies should be allowed some sun exposure … usually 20 minutes a day is recommended in order to receive adequate Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential for proper bone formation and avoidance of rickets. Dr. Joey Schulman states that most breast-fed or formula-fed infants under the age of 1 receive enough nutrients, especially if wholesome solid food is introduced at around six months of age. She does believe that the addition of a liquid vitamin supplement by the first birthday is a prudent intervention.
As children grow to toddlers and preschoolers, they can sometimes become “picky eaters.” Rather than engage in a power struggle, a good, tasty, chew-able vitamin takes the pressure off feeding issues in the early years.
As teenagers, children’s eating patterns again vary according to their newfound independence, part-time jobs, car acquisition, and peer influences, among other issues.
Another factor during these years may be body image. Teens tend to skip family meals, eat junk, junk snack foods and try fad diets. To help your teen’s nutritional status, try offering a good multivitamins first thing in the morning before they are off on their busy schedule.
Smoothies for breakfast with a good pure meal replacement product also helps ensure your teen’s nutritional status. Companies that have solid reputations as leaders in the natural supplements industry will assure the quality of their products and you can safely purchase their products knowing that you have done your due diligence.
Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (808) 212-8119 cell/text, www.janerileyfitness.com and www.discoverthis.isagenix.com