By Natasha Kwitkowski, R.Ph, NC

There are many books written on the subject of kids’ nutrition, and practically all of them without exception have a chapter called “Supplements“. But why do they? – You might ask. Why does my kid need anything else except food if he/she has no real health problems? A few colds and viruses in the winter, a couple of ear infections here and there, some food allergies or runny nose in the spring. Completely normal, right? Well, common – yes, normal – not exactly.
 Now let’s think of a scenario: you spend all your time in the kitchen cooking all your children’s meals from scratch, buy only organic foods, never let them touch sugar or anything processed, and they spent every summer in the country or on a farm drinking raw milk. How likely is this? Not very!

 Before we talk about any kinds of dietary additions, it must be noted, that most of the time organic farming happens to take place on depleted soil, and even with the best practices, pesticides are still widely used, maybe not as toxic as conventional ones but still pesticides; raw milk sale is prohibited (at least in the State of New York), and we are yet to find a school or day-care where no processed foods are allowed. With all of this in place, the nutritional state of our children is far from perfect. And do they get all the necessary nutrients from food? Not likely.

 So let us look at what generally healthy children really need to fill nutritional gaps and have on a daily basis



COD LIVER OIL



This is the first and most important supplement. Amongst its health-giving benefits, cod liver oil provides Omega-3, essential fatty acids, and vitamins A and D. Vitamin A is crucially important for immunity, it is even called “anti-infective” vitamin. The way it occurs in cod liver oil is in the best form for the body to absorb it. If you think you can get enough vitamin A from fruits and vegetables, it is simply not true because the body has a very hard time converting carotenoids into true vitamin A.

Vitamin D has drawn a lot of attention from the medical community in recent years and rightfully so: its deficiency is responsible for poor dental health, heart disease, arthritis, obesity, and many other problems.

Cod liver has been around for a very long time, but today mass-produced oil is very different from the one our grandparents used to consume. The industrial process of heat, pressure, bleaching, etc. ruins most of the content of A and D vitamins, so the synthetic counterparts are added, but the body doesn’t know what to do with them, so their use is very limited. The only company that still uses the fermentation process to give us cod liver oil in its true form is Green Pastures. Its recommended dose for children is only 1/4 teaspoon, but all the vitamins and nutrients in this oil are intact, which makes it super potent but at the same time very easy for the body to absorb. Another reputable company with sound manufacturing practices is Carlson Labs. It makes liquid cod liver oil for children, called “Carlson for kids cod liver oil, lemon flavor“.

 A few more words about vitamin D. Exclusively breast-fed children need this vitamin to supplement breast milk which is not perfect when it comes to the Vitamin D content. Carlson Labs also makes “Vitamin D infant drops” just for that purpose.



MULTIVITAMINS



The second very important supplement is good, all around multivitamin. Now, this is where it gets tricky. There are myriads of vitamins available for kids out there, but with many, many nutrients listed on their labels, assuming high potency, they are all synthetic and fractioned, not compatible with the human body at all. It is very hard to tell how much of it your child’s body can use. The answer to this problem is to always get supplements derived from whole foods. They are made by removing water without disturbing the vital nutrient content. When measured against synthetic vitamins, there is simply no comparison. Aside from vitamins and minerals, they contain nutrition that provides perfect balance, allowing your body to absorb it completely. One example is Catalyn from Standard Process or my family’s favorite Juice Plus, called “the next best thing to fruits and vegetables”. It bridges the gap between what your children do eat, and what should actually get into their diets. What sets it apart from other similar products is very impressive clinical research showing that its nutrients do get into the blood stream and are efficiently used by the body. There are chewables or capsules for kids, depending on their age.



PROBIOTICS



They are the last but not the least. A lot has been said about the subject, but the most important thing to know is that they are beneficial bacteria in the form of fermented food or a nutritional supplement. Probiotic means “pro-life”. Sugar, processed carbohydrates, chemically altered fats, exposure to environmental chemicals and prescription drugs, – in other words, all the modern marvels, damage gut flora and let the disease settle in.

Probiotics are there to repair the damage. Among their multiple benefits, there is help in preventing childhood eczema, asthma, allergies, dental decay, and many other common ailments.

 There are great products out there: one of my favorite for kids is UltraFlora Children’s by Metagenics. If your child never took probiotics before, you have to start very slow, from tiny amounts, and increase gradually till suggested dose is reached.

 Another very important thing: babies that are born by Caesarian section are left vulnerable because they have avoided natural journey through the birth canal. There, they would be exposed to their mother’s bacteria, called Bifidobacterium Infantis, predominant in healthy infants. Having missed it, these infants are much more likely to develop different allergies later on, but the company called Natren makes a product “Life Start” to replenish this bacteria.



These are all great things, but they are obviously not substitutes for a diet full of not just green organic vegetables, but bone broth, grass-fed butter, eggs, fish, liver, meat, and fermented foods, like kefir and sauerkraut.
 This way your child will definitely have a better chance to stay healthy. And that means fewer missed days of school, more ski vacations in the winter, and more quality time for the whole family.