Why Kids’ Supplements Are Critical
Even with the healthiest diet, children and adolescents might not get optimal amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other critical nutrients.
Research shows that kids often fail to get the recommended intakes of minerals including iron, zinc, and magnesium. Other studies show a low intake of vitamins A, C, and E among children, while adolescents are notably low in the mineral magnesium.
Those nutrient deficiencies present several challenges for children:
Unhealthy Eating Habits and Nutrient Deficiencies
Even with the healthiest diet, children might not get sufficient nutrients.
Among those reasons: Fruits and vegetables are less nutritious these days because of the nutrient-depleted soil they grow in. Most children also don’t eat organic produce, which tends to be higher overall in nutrients.
But many children aren’t always eating a healthy diet. Consider vegetables: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found the intake of healthy foods such as dark green vegetables was very low.
Most of the vegetables that children do eat come from poor sources, such as fried potatoes or chips.
Fruit, which is sweeter and hence more palatable among children, provides an array of nutrients. But even that becomes a problem: Many children — especially younger ones — consume mostly juice rather than whole fruit. Processed juices are stripped of dietary fiber and some nutrients, essentially creating sugar water.
Poor School Lunches
We also live in a culture that doesn’t always foster good nutrition. Many schools, for instance, provide unhealthy foods for kids. These foods are less expensive and last longer than more nutrient-dense foods that have short sell-by dates.
About 50 percent of American schoolchildren participate in the National School Lunch Program. This program complies with the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for specific nutrients.
However, researchers measured the intake of these nutrients among children and found many weren’t always meeting those recommended amounts. One nutrient that children get morethan enough of is sodium, prevalent in processed foods and table salt.
That’s because burgers, fried potatoes, and pizza with meat are popular food choices in many school lunchrooms. Some schools also provide access to competitive food sources including vending machines that overall contribute to poor diet quality.
But the largest contributor to children’s intake of added sugars — a whopping 45 percent of the total amount, in fact — comes from regular soda and sweetened drinks. Among their problems, carbonated sodas can leech nutrients from a child’s growing body.
To be fair, schools aren’t the only environment that influences children’s eating decisions.
At the same time, we have an opportunity to create healthy habits for children through family, school, community, and other environments. These habits require consistent, continuing, and age-appropriate strategies that children can carry into adulthood.
Help Your Child Get the Right Nutrients
Getting the right nutrients starts with a child’s diet. Depending on the condition, our Core or Advanced plans provide a wide selection of delicious, nutrient-dense foods. These foods provide critical vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients your child needs to thrive.
Nutrition requirements change according to a child’s age. Talk with your healthcare practitioner about specific nutrients that could benefit your child.
To fulfill that quota, your healthcare practitioner might recommend supplements. Many children and adolescents use vitamin and mineral supplements, for instance, which contribute significantly to the total dietary intake of these nutrients.
Supplements are meant to do just that: Supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle. They cover the bases that children might not get from food.
However, multivitamins and other supplements are often formulated for children as gummy bears or other types of candy to be more palatable. Many of these are loaded with sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors, and potential food sensitivities. They can also stick to children’s teeth, potentially creating tooth decay.
Be aware too that some children can treat gummy vitamins and other sweet supplements like candy, potentially overdoing them and creating nutrient toxicity. Keep these supplements out of your children’s reach. Better yet, skip them altogether and choose high-quality supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Beyond a multivitamin, your healthcare practitioner might recommend an omega-3 fatty acids supplement.
Many children don’t eat wild-caught fish regularly. Their bodies can’t make these critical fatty acids, which contribute to critical roles such as learning and memory. Researchers believe giving school-age children omega-3 fatty acids could improve school performance.
So too with probiotics, the good gut bacteria that supports immune function and so much more. Children often don’t eat fermented and cultured foods such as sauerkraut and yogurt. A supplement can provide those critical probiotics for gut and overall health.
Discuss including these and/or any other additional supplements in your child’s daily health practices with your healthcare practitioner. Never modify any medications or other medical advice without your healthcare practitioner’s consent.
6 Ways to Optimize Your Child’s Nutrient Intake
Food creates the foundation for your child to get optimal nutrients. You can’t always control what they eat, but when you employ these six strategies you can feel assured they meet their nutrient requirements to thrive and grow into healthy, happy adults.
- Start with a healthy breakfast. The day’s first meal provides a solid foundation for a healthy day’s eating. In the rush of the morning, breakfast often takes a backseat. Our Brain Boosting Smoothie takes minutes to prepare, but keeps your kids full and focused all morning. You’ll find some quick, easy healthy breakfast recipes here.
- Make one night a week family-meal night. You can’t control everything your child eats throughout the day, but making at least one meal every week (more is better) family-focused ensures your child eats at least one nutrient-dense meal. You’ll find plenty of delicious dinner recipes on the Healthy Recipes Dinner Recipes page. Don’t forget Healthy Recipes has many healthy desserts too if you search the category: Desserts Recipes.
- Be aware of external influences. Children learn healthy or unhealthy eating behaviors early in life. As early as one year old, in fact, as toddlers shift from human breast milk or formula to a wide variety of foods. Environmental factors contribute to those eating behaviors. Watching TV shows, for instance, expose children to a wide array of cereals and other sugary, processed foods that impact what they might beg for at the grocery store.
- Be the example you want them to be. You, as a parent or guardian, carry a massive amount of influence on what foods your children choose. When they see you eating fresh fruits and vegetables, they become more inclined to do so too. Put another way: The do as I do approach works much better than the do as I say approach.
- Don’t create pressure. Studies show that pressuring kids to eat healthy foods can backfire. So can rewarding children for eating healthy foods: They may associate those foods as a chore and not want to eat them. Instead, find positive alternatives to help kids make better eating decisions. Encourage swapping out nutrient-poor foods like potato chips and fruit juice, for instance, with healthier choices like carrot sticks with hummus and fresh apple slices.
- Talk with your healthcare practitioner about the right nutrients. Even with chiropractic care, eating healthy, moving better, and other essentials for a better life, children and adolescents might be lacking the nutrients they need for optimal health.
As with everything, moderate amounts becomes key. You want to give your child the correct amount of vitamins and minerals because too much of certain nutrients can be toxic.
Some vitamins and minerals, for instance, can also interact with medications your child may take. Discuss including these and/or any other additional supplements in your child’s daily health practices with your healthcare practitioner. Never modify any medications or other medical advice without your healthcare practitioner’s consent.