Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vitamins for Kids

Asking If Supplements for Healthy Kids Are Really Needed

Kids health I will admit that my first impulse as a new parent was to listen to commercials hawking vitamins for kids. I went out and picked up a bottle of Flintstones to supplement their diets, and didn't think twice about it. The vitamins for kids couldn't hurt, and I presumed the products were covering any short-falls that might exist in my daughters' eating habits. What I wasn't told and didn't consider, however, was that these vitamins probably weren't doing anything at all.
Needed Supplements
 
As adults advance in age, it makes sense to supplement vitamin and mineral intake as our bodies find it more difficult to process nutrients. "Supplementation not only protects against deficiency but also bridges the gap between average nutrition, which culminates in premature death, and optimum nutrition, which extends life span by decades," says Frank Painter, author of Why Supplements Are Necessary. "The extra nutrients that supplements provide prevent marauding free radicals from harming healthy cells, speed the repair and regeneration of damaged cells, and facilitate renewal. The upshot of all this is a longer, healthier, more vital life." These are solid points, but in children who haven't hit puberty, it may not be the case concerning vitamins for kids.


Nutritional Differences Between Healthy Kids And Adults

vitamins
A developing child begins life, ideally, with good nutrition habits handed to them without thinking. It is not until later when bad habits develop and deficiencies begin to creep into formerly balanced diets, as when parental oversight and regulated meals were in play. Home meals are nutritionally balanced in a healthy home environment, and school provided meals, whether taking the form of breakfast or lunch, are federally required to provide daily amounts of recommended nutrients. This is of course, based on factors such as if the child actually eats the provided meal, and is able to process the nutrients without medical variations. Vitamins for kids in this case might be required.

Processing Supplements
 
My kids eat well, and enjoy milk with just about every opportunity. Our weekly meal plans are balanced nutritionally, and the girls don't wolf down junk food like it's going out of style. However, for older kids left to their own devices, monitoring nutritional intake can be difficult. That 14-year-old who comes home alone after school each day may not reach for the veggie plate left for them by Mom at snack time, but instead graze on processed foods with little supplemental value other than salt and high-fructose corn syrup. If there's a concern with healthy kids, look at sources a child might be getting the big four: Vitamin D from milk, including calcium, vitamin A from 'orange' foods such as carrots for for supporting skin cells and bone tissue, vitamin C to help a body fight infection and heal itself, and vitamin B for protein and help develop energy. If these are all present and accounted for, vitamins for kids may not be needed.


What To Do if in Doubt
 
Start by having a discussion with your child's pediatrician to see if there are any deficiencies. If there are none and the child is developing normally, don't stress over buying those colorful and expensive television vitamins. However, it may be discovered that a diet is off-kilter, or your child's body is not processing foods properly to draw the appropriate nutrients from normal sources. At this point, work with your doctor to determine the right treatments. A well-balanced lifestyle is important for healthy kids and their growing bodies, and reinforcing good eating habits now will reap rewards later in life.