Top six nutritional supports for the littlest members of your family
When I became pregnant, I had grand intentions about how I would feed my easy, agreeable children: organic, focus on veggies and fruit, at least three food groups present in every meal and snack - preferably four. I had two delightful angels. The babies were 16 months apart and pretty darn fantastic. Unfortunately, my babies became toddlers and worse yet - preschoolers.
Like many new parents I became just as obsessed with what went into their little bodies as what came out of it. Nutrition wasn’t easy when suddenly one decided he would not eat a particular colour - which would change. Son number two has always been fixated by textures - I believe it was him who declared at three - he would no longer eat “long-chewing meat.” Out went anything that wasn’t a sausage, fish or ground meat. Fast forward a year or two and #2 is also allergic to dairy. On the upside they eat their veg but they hate it cooked which rules out a lot of variety. It seems shortly after they hit their preschool years we began our experiences with vitamins and supplements.
There are plenty of comprehensive multivitamins for children and vitamin-fortified foods on the market. Manufacturers have been targeting child supplements for a number of years. They are making vitamins that are far more palatable to children, however, they are getting far more candy-like. Make sure your supplements are stored out of reach from children. The appeal of gummies could prove too much and lead to children ingesting an unsafe amount. You may also want to have a chat with your doctor about your child's nutritional needs to ensure you are targeting their diet deficiencies and not overloading where you don’t need to.
How to choose a supplement
- Make sure the supplement is nutrient dense. Is it a multivitamin - does it have all 24 essential vitamins and minerals - or as many as possible? Is it a specific supplement - is the company of good reputation, known for accurate, high-quality formulas?
- Beware of additives. Some vitamins and supplements have gone too far down the gummy road. They are chock-full of artificial colours and flavours as well as extra sugar and fillers.
- Easy digestibility. Supplements and vitamins can be hard on adult stomachs. Watch how your child reacts to a new one by only adding one at a time. We are trying to optimize health and that won’t happen if you child is too uncomfortable to continue the supplement.
Happy gut, happy bu...
Give your children a leg up on overall health and improve digestion with Garden of Life Organic Kids+. This is packed with probiotics as well as vitamin C and vitamin D. I like the inclusion of vitamin D - especially in Canada where it's virtually impossible to get your daily dose from the sun except for the height of summer. Vitamin D is needed to build bones - essential for growing children but is also proven to improve mental health.
Scientists are just scratching the surface of the importance of probiotics and the role of thriving gut flora on our overall health. Healthy gut flora has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve immunity, help fight infections plus we just feel better when our digestion is moving smoothly. Specifically targeting children Metagenics UltraFlora Children’s is a probiotic formula that can help children fight the common cold.
Boost their brains
By now most people know the importance of omega-3 fatty acids - especially on our brain health. Little brains are growing much faster than our adult ones. Organika Omega-Chews will support children’s brain health, and can help build their skin, hair and nails. The chewy gummy makes it appealing to children without the fishy aftertaste that plagues some omega-3 supplements.
Get it in while you can
Some days notoriously fickle preschoolers seem to exist on air alone - and perhaps what they find in the cracks of their carseats. When in doubt try the favourite of both parents and kids: a smoothie. We love them because we can slip many superfoods in that a child may not eat otherwise and they like it because of the variety of flavours. If your kids like smoothies consider this: Metagenics has created vanilla Ultracare For Kids. Originally designed to support children with food allergies it has a blend of micro- and macro-nutrients. It has a great combination of vitamins, supplements - even protein plus it is dairy-free and gluten-free.
My littles are snackers. I try to make the best choices I can for them. I like to have a variety of grab and go snacks on hand for those times I don’t have to time to prepare whole foods. When CLIF debuted its organic Zbar it quickly became a favourite. While we have ended up with some squabbles over the brownie flavour - they are that good - the boys enjoy the oatmeal and chocolate chip too and I like the balance of whole grains and protein (and they’re lunch box-ready peanut-free).
Another bar to grab is Simply Protein Kids Bar. Gluten free, peanut free and vegetarian this can be a great choice for the lunch box. With a focus on protein to keep tummies full longer, they also only have three grams of sugar to avoid the sugar spikes that hit some kids. Available in strawberry vanilla, apple maple, banana chocolate and chocolate brownie, even the pickiest kid can find a flavour they like.