Many adults have settled into a multi-vitamin routine over the years or regularly take certain dietary supplements on the recommendation of their doctors. You take these diet aids because you believe them to be safe and beneficial for your health, picking up the slack where your daily meals fall short.
But what about your kids? Do they need supplements too, and are dietary supplements safe for kids to take?
According to the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, about 12 percent of kids in the U.S. are using some type of complementary health product or practice. As a parent or guardian, you might be concerned about giving anything to your kids because what’s printed on the label may not be exactly what’s in the bottle.
To start, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend giving multi-vitamins children who are already eating a well-balanced diet. Unnecessarily administering multi-vitamins can put kids at a greater risk of getting too much vitamin A and C, zinc, copper, iron, folic acid, and selenium. However, kids who don’t eat a nutritious diet at home and school are much more likely to have deficiencies in vitamin D, vitamin E, and calcium. This means that a multi-vitamin could be beneficial for these children.
One big thing to consider before starting to give your child any type of dietary supplement is other medications he or she is taking. Some supplements have a way of interacting with other medications and causing unwanted side effects. For example, you may choose to give your child vitamin C tablets to boost the immune system during flu season. However, vitamin C is known to slow the body’s natural processing of acetaminophen. So if your child gets injured and needs pain medication, an excess of vitamin C in the body could delay that relief.
As children grow up and transform into teenagers, their hormones change dramatically. Some supplements, such as melatonin, which is commonly used as a sleep aid, can disrupt hormone levels in children. This effect is amplified in children who have many different medical disorders, including diabetes, seizures, and cerebral palsy.
In general, there are some supplements that are more beneficial to children than others. Children’s bodies and minds are growing rapidly, and their nutrient needs can change faster than you might expect. Of course, you’ll want to take the above-referenced considerations into account and discuss your children’s nutrient needs with your pediatrician on a regular basis.
Below are some of the supplements to bring up with the pediatrician when you have that conversation, because these are known to help support healthy, growing kids. Your kids may be able to get these nutrients from the foods listed here but if not, natural dietary supplements may help pick up the slack. At Seagate, we grow and harvest our own fruits, vegetables, and protein from our own farming and fishing operations to provide you and your family with concentrated forms of these healthy foods in an organic and chemical-free way.
- Calcium – milk, yogurt, soy, tofu, fortified orange juice
- Magnesium –green leafy vegetables, nuts, grains
- Zinc – beans, lentils, chicken
- Omega-3s – salmon, tuna
- Vitamin D – fish, fortified milk, eggs
- Vitamin K2 – grass-fed animal sources, fermented foods
- Probiotics – sugar-free yogurt
So while the ads on TV might suggest that every kid needs a Flintstone vitamin or a chewy gummy bear vitamin, this isn’t always the case. Just like every adult’s dietary needs are different, every child’s needs are too.
The important takeaway here is that there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution to your children’s nutritional needs. It’s up to you take an honest assessment of your kids’ diets with their pediatrician and make adjustments in the safest and healthiest ways possible.