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Supplements: Yes or No?

 

As parents, we have countless decisions to make every day, especially when it comes to food. Some of these decisions center around questions regarding the health of our children: What to feed them for breakfast? How can we make their meals more nutritious? What foods or supplements should we give them to boost immunity and brainpowerAre multivitamins the answer?  

When making nutrition decisions for your family, choose whole, unprocessed food as the foundation. The best choices are foods without a label or that have ingredients you can clearly identify as real food. Also, focus on rainbow eating or creating a meal that has two or more colors from produce, and add in a source of healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Lastly, reduce processed sugary foods by offering naturally sweet options like fresh fruits and no-bake cookies made from oats, chocolate pieces, and almond butter. 

Although food is the foundation of health, the reality of soil depletion, use of pesticides, and the declining nutrient density of our meals indicate the need to offer select supplements for growing bodies and minds. Here are four supplements for children that will support optimal health and boost immunity: 

Multivitamin – Look for one with K2, the active form of this fat-soluble vitamin, paired with methylated B vitamin (which absorbs better) vitamin D3, and vitamin C as ascorbic acid. A good multivitamin helps boost nutrients synergistically and should be taken with food for optimal absorption. 

Magnesium – This mineral is used in more than 300 different enzymatic reactions and is depleted by stress. It’s estimated that 80 percent of the population is deficient in magnesium. Kids need this valuable mineral to improve sleep, manage blood sugar, and help build strong bones and teeth. Adding a half-cup of Epsom salts to an evening bath can also boost magnesium levels and help bring about a sense of calm for better sleep. 

Probiotics – The link between a healthy gut and a healthy mind is well established. When the bacteria in the gut are diverse, children can experience enhanced immunity, improved metabolism, healthy weight, better skin, and healthy elimination. In the book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, it’s noted that the right probiotic can increase absorption of nutrients from foods by 50 percent, as well as help assimilate B vitamins such as biotin and vitamin K. 

Vitamin D3 – This fat-soluble vitamin can become depleted if children aren’t consuming sources of it in their diets (salmon, tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms). Benefits of maintaining an optimal range include healthy weight, reduced anxiety and depression, improved sleep, and improved attention and focus. 

 

Each child is biologically unique so the best approach is to consult with a trusted health care provider for guidance when choosing supplements to enhance wellbeing. 

By // Dana Bosselman, MA, RDN, LMT, IFNCP 

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