Raising an 8 year old comes with all sorts of challenges; silent prayers when he flies through the air tackling his opponents in football, conscious choices of which foods to send in his lunchbox, nightly bed time routines, play dates, encouraging
responsibility and protecting him without stifling his curiosity, among so many others. This is an age where I’m acutely aware of his innocence weaning and he is becoming a little person who will soon take on more responsibility, both in school and at home. And with that added responsibility comes an awareness of how important the food choices we make are, and the supplements that we give our children are vital to their development. And while most kids will choose a cookie over cauliflower any day, it’s our job as parents to make sure we’re giving them the proper vitamins and nutrients they need to thrive.
So, I’ve put together a list of the top recommended vitamins and supplements for children; as always, check with your doctor or other professional if you feel best doing so prior to starting a new vitamin and supplement routine for your child.
If you’re one of the many who give your child a sugary multivitamin (don’t worry, I advocate that over none at all!) then you’re probably falling short on the daily recommended calcium dosage. In fact, most multi-vitamins have about 100 mg of calcium, which is far short of the daily recommended 1,o00 mg for children ages 4 to 8, and 1,300 for age 9 and older. If your child eats calcium rich foods, like milk and non-dairy milks, orange juice, tofu, etc. they may be getting enough, however, I add a Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D supplement for our son every day, just to be sure.
Dose: experts reccomend an additional 200 mg of calcium and 400-600 IU vitamin D3 daily. Try Now Kid Cal chewables.
This one is harder for young kids to get into their diets naturally, as most kids avoid dark green leafy veggies, nuts and whole grains, so a supplement is often needed to help ensure kids are getting the daily recommended amounts. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and Medical Director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association points out that magnesium helps support muscle and nerve development, improved kid’s sleep, mood and regularity. In fact, low magnesium levels have been linked to ADHD and hyperactivity.
Dose: Up to 100 mg magnesium in the morning and evening daily. Try Natural Vitality Kid’s Natural Calm Multi.
Unless your child is eating three or more servings of fatty fish weekly (salmon, sardines, tuna), they are most likely falling short of the recommended daily Omega-3 levels. EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are critical for development and healthy functions of the brain and eyes, and help reduce the risk of aggression, depression and ADHD in kids. Other great benefits of omega-3s include helping prevent and treat allergies and asthma. According to Carolyn Dean, children over age 4 need about 250 ml DHA and 180 mg EPA daily, teens need about 500 mg DHA and 365 mg EPA.
Speaking from experience, it’s important to choose a fish oil that your child will take without noticing too much of a fishy flavor. Choose a high quality, citrus flavored fish oil or cod liver oil in either liquid, soft-gel or gummy form.
Dose: children over age 4 need about 250 ml DHA and 180 mg EPA daily, teens need about 500 mg DHA and 365 mg EPA. Try Coromega Kids Omega 3 squeeze, which has a pudding like consistency or Nordic Naturals Algae Omega, which is suitable for vegetarians.
When I had my son tested for food allergies, and he came back positive for a gluten sensitivity, I immediately put him on probiotics. And while I highly recommend it for everyone, I wanted to be sure to help combat the damage already done by 4 years of eating a food he was allergic to, and help make sure his system was able to bounce back and be stronger than ever.
Probiotics provide the friendly gut bacteria that helps improve digestion, ease constipation and support the immune system. It’s been suggested that children in day cares who take probiotics get fewer colds and ear infections. Kids can get probiotics from eating yogurt, but the high sugar content in flavored yogurt reduces the benefits. Probiotic supplements are a sure-fire way to boost immunity, and are especially important after taking antibiotics.
Dose: 10 billion CFU or more daily as needed. Try Culturelle Probiotics for Kids.
While called a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a hormone, and though the body can make this on its own from sun exposure, our use of sun screen and shade prevents most of us from getting enough sun exposure to generate the levels of vitamin D our bodies need. Vitamin D is found naturally in fish, eggs and cod liver oil, and is critical for immunity and bone health.
Dose: The Institute of Medicine recently doubled the suggested dosage of Vitamin D for children to 400 IU daily. Try Calrson Super Daily D3.
Zinc is a trace mineral which plays an important part in building a healthy immune system as well as supporting our senses of taste and smell. In fact, picky eaters who crave sugar are often zinc deficient. Red meat, chicken and beans are good sources of zinc, however, most kids don’t get enough in their foods, so a supplement s often recommended.
Dose: 2-4 mg of a chelated form, such as zinc gluconate. Try a multi mineral liquid that includes calcium, magnesium and zinc for added benefits. ChildLife Multi Vitamin & Mineral Liquid is a great product that we give our son daily.
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