It goes without saying that a healthy, balanced diet is important for children, but the fact is that most children’s (especially young children) diets are far from that. It’s been said that the top two vegetables eaten by American children are French fries and ketchup, which should give everyone pause.
Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined that “Less than half of children consume the USDA recommended number of servings in any give food pyramid group and almost 80% do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.”
These missing nutrients can cause a number of problems for growing bodies, and can also evidence itself in concentration and attention problems at school. One study, for example, researched kids ages 8-14 who took a multivitamin for three months and had “significantly improved cognition and mood”.
Another study found that “Children who took dietary supplements showed more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions.” Yet another study found that multivitamin use among children improved cognitive performance.
One area where supplements are important for children (I would almost venture to say that they may be even more important than a multivitamin) are omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are absolutely crucial for brain function and development. It’s important to note that the body cannot manufacture its own omega 3s, and that they must be added to the body either from foods or supplements. Omega 3s can be obtained from fish or flax, though for children and brain function fish is greatly superior, though there are vegetarian forms that are as effective as fish oil (it’s important to look for vegetarian products with DHA). Most kids aren’t a big fan of fish, plus there are concerns about mercury contamination, so supplements are an ideal choice.
For most parents the idea of getting their child to take a fish oil supplement is laughable, but there are some fantastic and great tasting fish oil supplements on the market. The one I most recommend isBarlean’s Omega Swirl, which is made in a way so that the texture is similar to a cream or yogurt and it’s not at all fishy. My daughter would literally drink the entire bottle if I’d let her.
There are a large amount of positive studies on the benefits of omega 3 fish oil supplements for children and its help in concentration, impulse control, depression and hostility. For children with ADD/ADHD, supplementation is even more important, as research has found that those children are often severely deficient in omega 3s. I even had a woman who came in the store literally in tears because she was so grateful at the night and day difference in her daughter after giving her fish oil. While I can’t say that results like that are going to happen for everyone, I do firmly believe that omega 3 supplements are of great benefit for everyone, especially children.
Other areas of importance are of Vitamin D, especially in the winter, since vitamin D deficiency can cause brittle bones and osteoporosis in later life. Vitamin D also enhances immune function, and vitamin D supplementation has been found in research to reduce the risk of illness in children, especially respiratory infections. Calcium supplements are also important for children, especially those on dairy free diets.
We have a lot of very high quality children’s vitamins and supplements at the store, so come by- we’d love to help you.