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Many of our patients ask about the benefit of a nutritional supplement for their children. Ideally, kids acquire all the nutritional fuel they need from a healthy, balanced, organic, and GMO-free diet. But even with such a diet, there can still be nutrient deficiencies due to exposure to environmental toxins, illness, or poor health habits and lifestyle choices. Or, if your child is following a special diet or is vegan, they may be missing essential nutrients that come from a more varied diet.
Just like adults, children can benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements. However, children’s metabolism and their immune, digestive, and central nervous systems are still maturing, so the effects and side effects of supplements can differ from those seen in adults. This is especially true for infants and young children. When considering nutritional supplements for youngsters, it’s important to seek a trusted source to increase the likelihood that the product has been properly formulated, labeled, and has gone through quality assurance testing.
A basic supplement regimen for children includes:
Multivitamin: Look for one derived from whole foods, or if that is not available, a standard formulation. Check labels to be sure the product is free from fillers, toxins, and added sugar.
Multi-mineral: A good quality multi-mineral includes an array of trace minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
Omega 3s: Look for omega-3 fish oil supplements that have been independently tested for heavy metals and PCB (a man-made manufacturing substance and known cancer-causing agent banned in 1979 that may still be present in some manufacturing processes).
Probiotics: Ideally contain 10 billion, multi-strand organisms.
Vitamin D: Current guidelines suggest 600 IU.
Based on individual health needs, there may be times when a specific supplement regimen or higher amounts of a supplement may be needed—a decision best made with your holistic practitioner.
Gaby, A. Nutritional Medicine. Concord, N.H.: Fritz Perlberg Publishing: 2011.
Natural Health Academy. “Vitamin Supplementation.” April 29, 2014.
NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. “5 Things to Know About Safety of Dietary Supplements for Children and Teens.” Updated June 4, 2015.
Skowron, J. M. Fundamentals of Naturopathic Pediatrics. Toronto: CCNM Press: 2009.