Kids and Supplements
Thursday, July 28, 2011
LifeTime WeightLoss in Anika DeCoster, Supplements, kids

Written by: Anika Christ, RD, CISSN, CPT - Life Time Fitness

According to the Nutrition Business Journal, children’s supplements, alone, are a $1+ billion industry?  More than ever, parents are purchasing supplements for their kids.  And why wouldn’t they?  Today’s children are likely to eat a diet rich in processed and synthetic foods, have health or behavioral problems and be overweight.  As well, they may not be getting adequate vitamin D through food or sunshine, be picky eaters or having growth spurts that require additional nutrients.

So, what’s recommended for 21st-century kids?  Here’s what we suggest, along with some supplement shopping tips.

The Multivitamin

Parents may know that their child should be taking a daily multivitamin on a daily basis, but they may not know that majority of kid-marketed supplements are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and coloring. The cartoon characters can be enticing but, just as with food, the ingredients determine the quality of the product.  When we continue to add sugar to foods (or supplements) so kids will consume them, we continue to feed an obesity epidemic. 

Shopping tips:

  1. Read the ingredient list.  Avoid products that use artificial ingredients, sweeteners or colors — especially colors that are not listed as FD&C (FDA approved for use in food, drugs and cosmetics).
  2. The product should contain vitamin D (1000 I.U.) and folate (400 micrograms). For children who are lactose intolerant and growing teens, you may want to select a supplement that includes calcium and magnesium (2-to-1 ratio).
  3. Choose your gummies carefully. Some of them include several grams of added sugar, which can add up to more than a teaspoon per serving!  Naturally sweetened, sugar-free options are available.
  4. Look for a quality assurance seal that indicates the product was created under strict manufacturing processes.

Life Time Fitness recently launched their Growing Healthy Multivitamin, which has one of the highest nutrient profiles for a kid-friendly supplement.   

Omega-3 Fish Oil

Because modern diets are saturated in omega-6’s and sparse in omega-3’s, supplementing with omega-3 has become a necessity. Omega-3’s are essential nutrients and their countless benefits for children include: maintaining brain and gum health, decreasing depression symptoms, and supporting optimal body composition. 

 Shopping tips:

  1. Only buy fish oil supplements that say “mercury free” on the bottle.
  2. Each capsule should contain at least 500 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
  3. Determine the source of fish oil to confirm quality. The best fish oils come from small fish out of cold waters (north and south Atlantic and Pacific oceans) vs. fish farms. 

In an ideal world, children would get what they need for vitamins, minerals and essential fats from foods that are as close to natural as possible. However, most of us consume food that’s been altered and made deficient by modern farming processes and other factors. Supplements provide a stopgap for crucial nutrients we might be missing. Note that these recommendations do not address a child’s daily need for complete proteins. Although protein deficiency is not common in the United States, you should refer to your child’s physician if you have any concerns about it.

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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