When it comes to giving children supplements, a lot of questions arise. Is it really necessary? Which ones do they need? How on earth do I get my kids to take supplements anyway? Unless there are special needs and considerations, I tend to err on the side of keeping it simple, but there are four foundational supplements for kids that I think are worth giving. These are not designed to replace healthy foods, but acts as a complement to make sure all nutritional needs are being met.
(1) Multivitamin/ mineral
The most basic of the basics, a good multivitamin and mineral is a great starting point. Vitamins and minerals are so important to make sure all biochemical pathways are moving along nicely. You can’t possibly supplement with each and every nutrient individually, so a good quality multi is key. Many come in liquid form and chewable form, which tend to be easier with kids. It’s worth getting a good quality multiple, as cheaper ones come with cheaper forms of the minerals, which are not as absorbable. I’ve used the ChildLife one and been happy with that, and it’s easy to hide.
(2) Fish oil
A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil is well known to support neurological function. There are two main constituents you want – EPA and DHA. While in adults, we typically find EPA:DHA in about a 2:1 ratio, for kids, it’s actually more important to have a slightly higher amount of DHA since it is so imperative for their brain development. Essential fatty acids also help the skin, connective tissue, cardiovascular system and many other systems of the body. Fish oil today isn’t as nasty as it used to be – company’s have got smarter about masking the taste, and so many of them now are pretty decent tasting! I’ve always like the brand Carlsons.
(3) Vitamin D
I wrote about the benefits of vitamin D for children here. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more common than we would think, and yet it is such an important nutrient especially for bones, and for the immune system. Vitamin D is more than a vitamin – it acts as a hormone in the body too. Vitamin D is readily available in liquid form, and is quite concentration, making it very easy to give. I used drops that were 400 IU per drop when Valentina was an itty-bitty baby, just adding it to her milk. Now she’s over two I’m giving her 1000 IU daily. The Biotics Bio-D-Mulsion and Bio-D-Mulsion Forte contain 400 IU and 2000 IU per drop respectively.
I honestly think every single individual should take probiotics!! I have written about that separately too- see here. Since we have many many more bacteria in our bodies than we do actual cells, we want to make sure that bacterial environment is as healthy as possible. Poor nutrition, high-sugar diets, antibiotics and stress can all deplete our healthy gut flora and allow unhealthy flora to take over. Probiotics are pretty easy to give too – you can either empty an empty capsule, or get a liquid one and simply add it to your child’s drink. Klaire labs has a great multi-strain capsule that is good for kids older than about two; they also have a good infant powder for the littlies.
I try to get those four basics in every day. Of all of them, the fish oil is the hardest for us because it has the strongest taste – the other three I can sneak in to my daughter’s milk or smoothie and she never evens knows they’re there. Even so, if her smoothie has some flavored liquid stevia in there, that’s generally enough to mask the fish oil taste!! It takes me all of a minute to get her morning drink ready – it’s a good source of protein for her plus with added vitamins, D, probiotic and fish oil I feel like it’s a power-packed start to her day!