The older I get, the more I believe in quality supplementation. I guess over the years I’ve tried life with and without supplements, and I notice a big difference when I am not taking mine. My blood values change, my sleep changes, my food cravings change and I am most notably sick more frequently when I am not taking them.
I am even more passionate about my children taking high quality supplements every day. We all know daycare and school classrooms are basically a cesspool of germs. I don’t know where you are in your parenting dinner time game- but my current life status includes being proud of how creative I can be hiding veggies where my children won’t notice.
Our children’s brains and bodies are growing at an exponential rate and they need vitamins and minerals as building blocks. If I am being honest- I feel a little less guilty about the chicken nuggets I feed them if they are at least eating vitamins.
If I had to pick ONE supplement for the kids out of all of them, I would give them a high quality DHA/EPA supplement (Omega 3’s). EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids that act as influential structural components of cell membranes. They are essential nutrients for health and development, much like certain vitamins and minerals. However, we cannot produce them on our own, so we must consume Omega-3s through diet or supplementation. The documented health benefits of EPA and DHA include supporting a healthy heart, brain and cognitive function, joint mobility, eye health, healthy skin and hair, and healthy immune response. If you are interested in research on this topic check out this website (https://www.omega-research.com/) which has research divided out by topic for your reading enjoyment.
Priority two for my kids is a probiotic. A probiotic is a supplement that contains CFU’s (colony forming units) of “good” bacteria for your gut and microbiome. More research comes out every day linking deficiencies in your healthy flora and diseases - especially mental health, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. How does one get an imbalance of your gut flora? Typically, it gets nuked by a broad-spectrum antibiotic (gee - who has a kid that hasn’t taken amoxicillin?). In one study, researchers found that taking probiotics reduced antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 42% (1).
According to a Cochrane Database review, moderate quality evidence suggests a protective effect of probiotics in preventing AAD (antibiotic associated diarrhea) (2). A review of 15 human studies found supplementing with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains for 1–2 months can improve anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and memory (3). I could go on and on, but the evidence is becoming increasingly clear - we should ALL be on a probiotic.
Priority three is a multivitamin. I know it seems funny that this is third in line, however, our
foods have become increasingly fortified to avoid major deficiencies in many areas. That being said, I am a firm believer in whole food supplementation and bioavailability of the vitamins and minerals one takes. While it’s great to commit to a daily regimen of supplemental vitamins, keep in mind that not all vitamins are created equal.
Your body’s ability to absorb and utilize the nutrients it receives is just as important as getting them in the first place. For the love, please don’t feed your kids (or yourself) a multi off the shelf from a large chain store (have you seen the infamous image of Centrum Silver vitamins floating around a colon in an x-ray because they don’t digest?). Set down the Flintstones, and let’s get all of you set up with a bioavailable supplement.
Last but not least, I would give them a Vitamin C and a Vitamin D3 supplement. Vitamin D is an essential bone-building nutrient, immune system regulator, and mood and circadian rhythm modulator. Because we slather our children with sunscreen, and live where the sun shines wayyyy less than it should, we are usually deficient in this vitamin. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps kids absorb iron, build strong bones, and stay well.
Supplementation can be powerful when done right. Be sure you are getting high-quality
supplements, as poor-quality ones can literally lead to health problems. Be sure you are dosing them correctly for age, and also know if you need to take them with food.
Let us take the headache out of it for you - we’ve done all the research and have found the best supplements for you and your family, and are happy to help you select vitamins that meet your unique needs.
Until next month,
References (Because you shouldn’t trust anything on the internet without them):
1. Hempel S, Newberry SJ, Maher AR, et al. Probiotics for the Prevention and Treatment of
Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA.
2. Goldenberg JZ, Lytvyn L, Steurich J, Parkin P, Mahant S, Johnston BC. Probiotics
for the prevention of pediatric antibiotic‐associated diarrhea. Cochrane Database of
Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD004827. DOI:
3. Wang, H., Lee, I. S., Braun, C., & Enck, P. (2016). Effect of Probiotics on Central
Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review. Journal of
neurogastroenterology and motility, 22(4), 589–605. doi:10.5056/jnm16018