Wherever you look, our health shelves comprises of supplements to help with one issue or another. We rely on gingko to boost our memory, echinacea to improve our immune system, and vitamin D to push us through those harsh sun-less winter days and the winter blues. However, we already know how our bodies work, we know what feels good, and thanks to years of consultations with our doctors, we know if and when we’re prone to certain deficiencies, and how to take care of them properly.
Our kids are an entirely different story. Their immune systems are still in the making, often exposed to germs and microorganisms from schools and daycare centers. We have yet to learn about potential deficiencies or natural ways to help their growing bodies develop correctly. To successfully navigate the waters of the supplement world, here are a few essential tips to keep in mind that can help you determine if, when, and how you should be supplementing your kids’ diet.
Spotting the first signs of Deficiencies
When you provide a healthy, balance diet for your youngsters, the chances are that they don’t need to use any supplementing whatsoever to boost their health. Even if they’re dealing with a cold or the flu, a temporary boost in vitamin C or something similar is all it takes to give their natural defence mechanisms a nudge in the right direction.
In other situations, your kids might have certain very prevalent deficiencies that could lead to further complications, a weakened immune system, and the like. For example, if your kid is hyperactive, their GI flora might not be balanced entirely, and a probiotic could help. Dry skin has been linked to vitamin A, E, and K2 deficiencies. Noticing specific signals and how your kids’ body is changing is a helpful way to see if it’s time to adjust their diet or reach for healthy, natural supplementing.
Common Dietary Deficiencies to look out for
Although there are no cookie-cutter solutions and your kid might not have any issues at all, knowing what constitutes a frequent nutrient deficiency can help you spot them sooner rather than later, or at the very least keep an eye on those nutrients in particular during those checkups.
Iron deficiency is surprisingly common all over the world, including the US. Vitamin D is another frequent problem for parents, especially in regions that don’t get enough sun all year round, and zinc is another mineral that tends to be lacking in our kids’ diets.
Dealing with picky eaters
Sometimes things aren’t quite so simple. Kids are often very finicky with their eating habits. Most won’t touch iron-rich sources such as broccoli or spinach, while seafood with zinc is off the table for many. Truth be told, even if you’re doing a great job in terms of variety in your kids’ menu, if they’re picky, turning to natural supplements such as spirulina can be of great help for their wellbeing.
It’s packed with minerals and vitamins, amino acids, and it’s so nutritious and easy to use that even astronauts rely on it to make sure their dietary needs are met. You can add it to your kids’ fruit or veggie smoothies, as they won’t even notice it due to its mild taste. Then again, if your little ones want to be astronauts, tell them that spirulina is for them what spinach is for Popeye, and they’ll most likely brave that one out!
Staying within recommended Doses
Most parents will typically stick with supplements they trust, be it a multivitamin blend to boost your youngsters’ immune systems or a vitamin-mineral mix. What’s most important to remember, no matter if you’re not yet sure whether or not your kids should have supplementing in their diet at all, is to stay in line with the prescribed daily recommendations.
Based on age, gender, activity levels, and other lifestyle factors (is your kid joining your family’s vegan lifestyle, for instance?), these recommendations are there to help you ensure balance in their diet. Even if supplements are of natural origins, such as omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil, too much of a good thing can still cause trouble.
Regular checkups are a must
Finally, regular checkups are not just mandatory to make sure that your kids are developing at a healthy rate, but also to spot those often hidden health issues such as nutrient deficiencies and deal with them in time.
Ask your family doctor to regularly conduct the right bloodwork analyses and other tests to determine if and when your kids need to have supplements in their diet – especially if eating broccoli, spinach, or kale is out of the question.
Balanced meals are a must for your little ones, but as soon as they start developing their tastes and preferences, it will get tricky to convince them to eat all of those colourful fruits and veggies. Keeping healthy, natural supplementing at hand is always a handy way to enrich their meals with ingredients they aren’t eating through whole foods, but you should still ask the doctor first.
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