The notion of taking dietary supplements to fill in nutritional gaps and support your body’s functions has gone well beyond a simple multi-vitamin at the beginning of the day (though you certainly should try to take one.) The march of science now means that we have a variety of options for different groups. Men can handle their prostate needs with items like Prostagenix, and there are even offerings for people with specific dietary limitations. As more and more statistics show that children are suffering from nutritional deficiencies, many people are hoping to use supplements to their benefit in this area.
However, it’s important to remember that children have their own very unique nutritional needs and limitations. To understand what that second point means, here’s another statistic. Between 2005 and 2012, the number of calls to poison control centers about dietary supplements increased 50 percent. 70 percent of those calls regarded children under six years of age. Only 4 percent of these cases ended in serious medical outcomes, but that’s little comfort to most parents.
By no means are dietary supplements a bad thing for children or for anyone else. What these facts do mean is that you want to go with products and brands that have the highest levels of scientific scrutiny available, and always have a medical professional’s advice before and during the process. Now, let’s move on to those top options.
Your Top Options
In general, it’s always wise to go for the most common supplements when it comes to children. Not only does it give you more peace of mind in terms of safety, but it also means that you have the widest set of options. Many supplement brands are taking advantage of this interest by creating products specifically suited to growing bodies and specific nutritional needs children have.
Probiotics: Everyone these days can make good use of probiotics, largely due to the fact that we are learning more and more about the microbiome and how it factors into our successful digestion and beyond. When children are young, their gut flora is still developing, which means that adding more beneficial flora then may have more of an impact than waiting until adulthood. Eating fermented foods is another good way to introduce beneficial gut flora, but dietary supplements allow you to track the size of your dosages on a daily basis, which is always helpful.
Fatty Acids/Omega-3s: These supplements were all the rage a few years ago, and while others may be more trendy now, these are still going strong, especially when it comes to children. A major reason for this is the fact that it’s one of the best supplemental options you have when it comes to brain support. Deficiencies in these fatty acids are associated with things that no parent wants to hear about, including behavior and attention problems. Compounding the issue is that the food items that have the highest level of these nutrients, cold-water fish, aren’t necessarily on a lot of children’s plates.
Magnesium: Magnesium is similar to omega-3s in that many children are deficient in it (actually, most people, in general, aren’t getting enough), and that a shortage of it can lead to behavioral problems. Some multivitamins have magnesium, but it may be worth it to get more depending on what your doctor recommends. Also, magnesium is an important component for letting the body activate other nutrients, such as calcium.
Vitamin D: Unfortunately, a lot of modern supplementation is making up for the way that the modern lifestyle is affecting our nutrient intake. Vitamin D is a perfect example. Our bodies naturally produce this when we are exposed to the sun, but not all kids have access to direct sun daily. Another issue is the growing amounts of recreation taking place indoors. Vitamin D plays an essential role in immune health and bone health, so you don’t want to miss out on this essential vitamin.
Zinc: Zinc reinforces a lot of the different systems that we already talked about. For example, it plays a role in brain health and immune health. Unlike many of the other entries on this list, there’s not a huge amount of zinc-deficiency out there, due to the fact that you can get decent amounts from red meat, as well as healthier sources like chicken and beans.