Supplements can be a really valuable addition to a healthy diet a lifestyle. Yet on the other hand, they can also be a huge waste of money and even detrimental to your health if you don't choose the right ones. Over the years, I've taken a wide variety of vitamins and supplements myself and learned which ones are really worth the money. My personal experience taking supplements and my knowledge of nutrition has helped me determine the best supplements to give my kids.
In my opinion, there are two different categories of supplements you'd want to give your kids. The first is for maintenance of overall wellness. These are supplements one would take daily or on a regular basis. The other types of supplements are things I use as remedies or “medicine” to help the body to get through a specific illness or health challenge. These are usually taken for a shorter period of time to get through that particular challenge.
The supplements I'm talking about in this post are for daily maintenance of overall wellness.
When choosing a supplement for kids I look at:
- Quality of the Ingredients – check for pure organic ingredients with no additives, preservatives, or fillers
- Reputation of the Company – read the company's website, if you have any questions contact them and get them answered. If you are not sure as for a recommendation from a Naturopath or other Holistic practitioner
What about Multi-Vitamin Supplements for Kids?
When you are eating a healthy diet full of a wide array of vegetables I do not believe a multi-vitamin is necessary. If your children are picky eaters and don't eat a lot of vegetables, hide the veggies or use condiments (read this blog post for some ideas). Do whatever you need to do to get those veggies in their diet. My other big concern with a multi-vitamin is that it's too one-size-fits-all. Each person is so different and our needs are not identical so a standard multi-vitamin can't fit everyone.
I had a personal experience with taking a very high quality multi-vitamin in my late 20's that changed my view on them. At the time I had just started learning about Integrative Nutrition and healthy eating and was experimenting with supplements. The multi-vitamin I was taking was a good brand and quality sourced ingredients. I felt fine while I was taking them and there was no sign of anything wrong with them, except one thing. I started having really bad flare ups of adult acne (something I struggled with off and on) and couldn't figure out why.
After months of taking the multi-vitamin, I went on vacation to visit a friend for a week in California and I forgot to bring my vitamins. A couple days into the trip I realized my skin started looking better. By the time I was going home I had no new breakouts and I just thought all the fresh California food was good for me! I finally put two and two together and realized it was the vitamins. I stopped taking them and the flare-ups stopped.
This is the prime example of why the one-size-fits-all theory on multi-vitamins just doesn't work.
What Do I Give My Kids?
There are three maintenance supplements that I give my kids (and myself) that help keep us healthy and avoid illnesses. We take these on a regular basis – ideally everyday – but we just don't always remember to do it everyday.
The gut is the defense system of the whole body. If the balance of bacteria in the gut is healthy, then your child's body is able to fight off illness. It also promotes healthy digestion which increases absorption of nutrients and overall health. This is really the #1 thing supplement I want my children to take. Some brands I like for kids are Klaire Labs, BioGaia
The modern diet is low in minerals because of the lack of healthy whole foods in the diet. Even if you do eat a lot of healthy vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, foods are lower in mineral content because of depleted soil. Minerals are needed for so many functions in the body and they keep bones and teeth strong. Some brands I like are Vital Earth Minerals, ConcenTrace
Cod Liver Oil is a rich source of vitamins A, D and Omega fats which are vital to the immune system and child development. Vitamin D is especially important during the Winter months when there is little exposure to sunlight. Cod liver oil is an anti-inflammatory food and a rich natural source of these vitamins. Most people get more omega-6 fats in their diet then omega-3 and the body needs a balanced ratio of both of these fats to have a properly functioning immune system.
It is very important to get a high quality cod liver oil because it can easily go rancid. This is a brand I like – Corganic Extra-Virgin Cod Liver Oil.
Beyond these three supplements, there are other things we use from time to time depending on what is going on with our health. Most other supplements I use are for remedies or specific health concerns. The only other supplement I give on a very regular basis is Elderberry Syrup for enhanced protection from colds, the flu, and other common illnesses. If you'd like to make your own elderberry syrup easily at home, you might like this kit.
Learn more about supplements and the things I use as remedies to help my children get over illnesses quickly and safely with my online natural remedies course (I put this together with my friend Wendi Combes whose been a pediatric nurse for 20 years).