By Carie Connell

In our daily lives we are literally bombarded with media promoting vitamins for us, our kids, and all ages in between.  We see messages about vitamins from doctors’ offices, grocery stores, and schools, but the impulse for vitamins doesn’t stop there – even packaged and processed foods, including boxed cereals, highly processed drinks, and so many other categories of packing are filling our minds with the overly eager demand for vitamins.  These sources of media do two things: 1) convince moms that their kids desperately need the vitamins being promoted and 2) try to persuade parents that these vitamins can be found in all the forms and sources being promoted – even in the most processed of foods!

The word vitamin comes from the Latin root “vita”, which means “life” and gives the word “vitamin” the meaning of “life-giving source.” When we add “multi” to the front of that word, it just means that there are supposed to be many “life-giving sources” in that one little pill.  But, the “vitamins” you put into your kids’ bodies are only a life-giving source if they come from the original life-giving sources as they are found in nature.  And, they need to be in the proper, natural proportions of nutrients as found in their original sources.  This means that all of the highly processed, manufactured vitamins are giving us “vitamins” that are produced in laboratories under conditions that cannot possibly maintain any real nutrients as found in nature.  As moms, we need to be more than careful about what vitamins we choose for our our little ones’ bodies.

The ideal way for kids to get all the vitamins they need is for them to eat only the purest, organic, whole foods all the time – in an ideal world, kids wouldn’t need to take vitamins at all (and neither would we!).  But, we don’t live in an ideal world, so as our little ones grow and develop, we do need to help supplement that growth with important key nutrients (and that’s where we get the word “supplements”.) Generic multivitamins are drawn from refined foods that have gone through several processes to extract the supplement. These vitamins are no longer in a form that is good for your child’s body.  In fact, the best you can expect is that they have taken a placebo or no vitamin at all.   In a worse case, the supplements made from refined foods could actually create detrimental imbalances in their bodies if taken over long periods of time.

The idea of the multivitamin is really flawed to begin with: the formation of the generic multi do not foster yours kids’ overall health. Individual vitamins (such as C and E) are isolated and taken from the foods in which they naturally occur, stripping them of much of their value. They are then mixed together with other isolated vitamins to form the standard generic multivitamin. Thus, the multivitamin you buy off a grocery shelf (or even in some less legitimate health food stores!) is a synthetic combination of many vitamins in isolated, unusable form and offers no benefit to health.

The leading popular commercial Flintstones brand is hugely advertised as a kid-friendly vitamin that provides essential nutrients to kids in a desirable form.  It is really important to take care when deciding what vitamins and supplements to give your children – not only does Flintstones brand not provide real vitamins in usable form, but in fact contains ingredients that have proven threatening for children’s bodies.  Produced by the Bayer Corporation, the Flintstones vitamins contain artificial colorings and food dyes, artificial sweeteners (which have been linked to cancer), modified starch, glucose syrups, and hydrogenated oils, all of which are dangerous for kids’ (and adults!) bodies.  Beyond all of this, many generic vitamins give kids dangerous forms of iron (but don’t do anything to let you know about the dangers!).  Carbonyl iron is the only acceptable form for kids bodies – and the popular generic brands for kids are not careful about what the form or source is of the iron they include in their product.  The bottom line: beware of advertising and labels when choosing supplements for your family.

Whole Food Supplements

The Best Way to Follow Nature’s Recipe

Whole food supplements are exactly what their name describes: supplements drawn from whole, raw, unrefined foods – and they are the best way to give our little ones what their bodies need.  Supplements made from raw foods contain highly concentrated sources of enzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, and coenzymes that work together to yield the same benefits as consuming whole foods.

18697342_sThe ingredients in whole food supplements are distilled and concentrated in their original natural form and then enter your body in their natural proportions.  Raw food supplements provide your kids’ bodies with nutrients that can be absorbed and used in the same beneficial way that raw, whole foods can. Nutrients, enzymes, and vitamins occur in nature in complex forms, never isolated in separate forms by themselves – we should use this formula when condensing these nutrients into supplements!

Taking synthetic multivitamin supplements is unnatural for our bodies and can even cause harmful imbalances, as our bodies might treat the synthetic multivitamins as foreign substances. The key to the whole food supplement is the proportion and form of each component – the proper proportion, if kept in line with the balance found in nature, ensures elevated benefits for our kids bodies.  A supplement is much more potent if the components are in perfect proportion – the combined effect of each of the foods is more powerful than high nutrient levels in isolated, unnatural forms.

How to Find a Good Supplement for Your Kids

When searching for a good, natural supplement, it is most important to find one that has undergone the least refining from its original food sources. Keep the following key ideas in mind as you search for vitamins and raw food supplements:

1) The supplement should be as close as possible to its natural form – are vitamins and enzymes kept in the same combination they are found in nature?

2) The source of the foods included in the supplement – What foods (whole foods!) are they taken from?  Does the supplement claim to use the highest quality raw materials?  (Should show VCP designation, which means the company participates in the Vendor Certification Program)

3) The process the supplement has gone through before becoming a pill – How have the original sources been extracted and concentrated?  (Hint: if the packaging doesn’t tell you any information about this, it most likely has something to hide! Don’t trust companies and manufacturers to have your best interests at heart!)  How are the ingredients grown?

4)  What types of quality control manage the final product? What information is there about the manufacturing process?  Does the product demonstrate GMP certification (Good Manufacturing Process)?  What is the track record of the company producing the supplement – what do other parents or health food sources say about it?

5) Pay attention to the ingredients in the supplement or vitamin, especially if your kids have allergies.  Does it contain yeast, wheat gluten, soy protein, dairy, sodium, or starch? (A whole food supplement doesn’t need any of these!!) Beware of artificial colors, flavorings, and preservatives (again, a really natural supplement has no need for adding any of these!)  Finally, be careful of the sweeteners used in the supplement.  Natural sugars are ok in moderation – but no vitamin needs to have more than 1g of sugar!  We know kids need a little help to take their vitamins, so a little sweetener is good, but just not too much.