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Should Healthy Kids Take Supplements?

admin September 21, 2016

Every few months, I go crazy trying to figure out if my kids really need supplements or not.

Yes, the supplements I choose are food-based and high quality (I’m super picky).  I give them to the kids faithfully for a little while…and then not for awhile.  There are arguments to be made for each way.

I want to talk about it today…because a lot of parents are confused on this.  It’s totally understandable.  So, let’s dive in.

Let’s start first with the “no supplements” side of things.

Kids Don’t Need Supplements

Most Supplements are Crap

This, unfortunately, is very true.  A lot of the supplements on the market are not healthy and do not help anyone.  They’re made with synthetic nutrients that are poorly absorbed (and are thus largely excreted) and a lot of artificial colors, flavors, and fillers.  There’s little to no value to these types of products.

Many people do not know how to choose quality supplements, or cannot afford them, and really are better off taking nothing than using these cheap, crappy options.  Popular chewable children’s vitamins (the type you’d find in any grocery store) are simply not worth it.

There’s a huge vitamin and supplement industry out there, and like the pharmaceutical companies, they want to make money.  They will sell whatever products people will buy.  Don’t believe in them just because they’re “natural” — really research them closely and trust them when they earn it.  There are some good companies.

Diet Should Provide All Nutrients

Many people believe that a balanced diet does and should provide all the nutrients kids need.  Basically, kids should eat a wide variety of foods, and kids generally have access to plenty of food, and there’s no reason that they won’t eat a balanced array of vitamins and minerals over time.

Healthy Kids Don’t Need Extra

Many people believe that the RDA is sufficient, and that most children will meet or exceed the RDA most days in most nutrients, and that there’s no evidence that higher doses are more beneficial to health.

Should Healthy Kids Take Supplements pinterest

Kids Should Take Supplements

Now, the pro-supplement side!

Our Modern Soil is Depleted

A lot of people rightly point out that our modern soil is, unfortunately, very depleted.  Monocropping and heavy pesticide and fertilizer sprays have stripped the soil of key nutrients and important bacteria.  This means that the food grown in it is less nutritious.

It’s also true that most food is picked before it’s ripe and transferred, and sold days after harvest when some nutrients have been lost.  The longer it sits, the more nutrients are lost.  Some food is artificially ripened with ethylene gas and some is artificially preserved with wax.

That’s not even to discuss highly processed foods, which are further devoid of nutrients.

A diet that is lacking in key nutrients, or which is fortified with synthetic nutrients, may not be enough to meet a child’s needs.

Kids Don’t Get Offered Truly Healthy Foods

Some kids aren’t offered a truly healthy diet.  This is not always because the parents don’t mean well; many are just confused by what healthy even is anymore.  A lot of parents believe it is foods like Cheerios and Nutrigrain bars and artificially-flavored yogurt.  They’re trying to do well…but they’ve been misled.

The more kids are offered diets high in refined grains, artificial flavors, and sugar, they fewer actual nutrients they will consume.

This may not be an issue for your family, personally (it isn’t for mine).  But, it could be an issue if you have kids who are very picky — even though you offer a wide variety of foods.  There’s a vast array of reasons why kids may not eat a truly balanced diet and regardless of how it happens, it can cause issues with getting enough nutrients.

Kids are Rapidly Growing and Need a Lot

It’s true: kids are growing and developing rapidly, especially in the first few years of life, and again at puberty.  They need a large number of nutrients (relatively speaking) to supply their bodies and their brains.

Especially during growth spurts, it can be difficult to keep up with their vast needs.  Many say that the RDAs are actually far too low, and kids (and everyone!) could benefit from higher amounts of nutrients.

Should Healthy Kids Take Supplements?

Ultimately, should they?

I believe there are times when kids could use supplements.  I’m not convinced a daily multi is doing any specific good, especially if it not well-absorbed.

We choose to use cod liver oil and probiotics, as often as I remember to give them.  Rarely do we offer anything else to the kids at this point — though that may change when they are teens and have other specific needs.

Confused on Supplements and Healthy Diet?

It is a confusing topic.  I feel like I’m still exploring it myself, at times.

Ultimately, I choose to go with herbs.

Why?

Herbs essentially are foods.  They are found in nature, and they are rich sources of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals.  They’re in the most bioavailable forms, and our bodies can absorb what they need easily.

Herbs don’t come with any of the synthetic additives in most supplements.  Basically…they hit all the important points on both the pro- and anti-supplement sides.

Now, herbal supplements are not like regular supplements.  On the label of a standard multivitamin, you’ll see tings like “800% of the RDA!”  But this actually isn’t helpful, because our bodies can only absorb so much of a nutrient at one time.  The rest is just excreted — basically, wasted.

Herbs may only contain 10 – 20% of the RDA, but they’ll be absorbed much better and not wasted.  Plus, they have natural antioxidants, bioflavanoids, and a lot of other health-promoting properties.  They’re just vitamins and minerals.

I choose to make my own, and I also offer these herbal supplements to purchase:

All my natural supplements are made with organic herbs and organic vegetable glycerin.  They are free of colors, flavors, alcohol, added sugars, synthetic vitamins, and common allergens.

Do your healthy kids take supplements?  Why or why not?

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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