Hello! I’m Kate Pollon-MacLeod, aka “NutriChem Resident Mom”, and I am here to share my favourite products and favourite ways to get your kids to take their vitamins! I have found a huge difference between the ideal way to give supplements to kids and what actually works. I could write for hours about this but I will concentrate on probiotics, fish oil and immune boosting. Just a reminder to please seek the care of a Health Care Practitioner before giving supplements to your children.
Getting Your Kids to Take Vitamins
In my experience one of the most important supplements to give children are probiotics. Probiotics are immune boosting and help support intestinal and gastrointestinal health and combat diarrhea and digestion issues. It is also very important to take probiotics when your child is on antibiotics to re-populate their good bacteria (taken 2 to 3 hours after antibiotics dose). I usually suggest to parents if you have children over 1 years old that the give their children a powdered probiotic. It is more economical, easy to administer, can be hid in a variety of food or drinks, and it is effective for older children and adults as well. A tip is to look at the side of powdered probiotic jar or container under the directions as they will say the age that it can be used for. The supplement does not need to say “children” or “kids” on it to be safe for children.
For the past two years I have been providing HMF Powder to my 3 year old daughter each day with breakfast. It is for children 1 year and older, the ¼ tsp dose fits nicely onto a child size spoon. I add a bit of water to the powder on the spoon and it is downed in one gulp. If your child is a little bit more of a detective or picky you can mix it in juice, yogurt, applesauce, or any other cold foods.
Probiotics are especially important for newborns with gas, reflux and gastrointestinal health. A lot of breastfeeding moms have gotten the advice from their Health Care Professionals to put probiotic powder on their nipples to have the baby take when breastfeeding. I tried this and it was a disaster, powder everywhere except in the baby’s mouth. Kudos to any mom that has done this successfully because after a couple attempts I realized that this was not going to work for me. I have given my 1 year old the Metagenics UltraFlora Baby drops daily since birth. I would put the drops directly into her mouth when she was younger; mixed in with baby cereal or applesauce once she started to eat; and on its own by spoon now that she can consistently swallow the whole dose. Whether your baby is breastfed, formula fed or there are special requirements, we carry a probiotic option for each baby and momma.
As my kids have gotten older and now having a total of three kids, convenience but still quality has become our house motto. In light of recent events with COVID-19 I have been really impressed with and my kids love the taste of the HMF Fit for School. HMF Fit for School includes a combination of research-driven probiotic strains and vitamin C that helps to reduce incidence of Upper Respiratory Track Infection (URTI) symptoms in children. It comes in chewable tablets with a delicious natural blackcurrant flavour. In a recent clinical trial, 57 schoolchildren were randomized to receive either a placebo tablet or the probiotic strains included in HMF Fit for School's formula plus 50 mg of vitamin C daily for 6 months. Children in the probiotic plus vitamin C group had 33% less incidence of URTI, a significant decrease in the number of days with URTI symptoms, and a 30% decrease in school absenteeism. HMF Fit for School also includes 25 mcg (1000 IU) of vitamin D per tablet.
There is lots of research using probiotics in neonatal infants – thus demonstrating the high safety profile they have. Often probiotics for infants and kids are lower dose just because their digestive tracts are much smaller.
Yes you can get your kids to take Fish Oil!
Fish oil is amazing for kids, several studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids improve focus and concentration in kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). This is all fine and dandy but my toddler would rather give up her favourite stuffed animal for a year than eat even the smallest piece of salmon. The best way to ensure your child is getting their fatty acids is through fish oil supplements. There are gummies options, but as your child gets older the amount of gummies that they require ends up being very costly. Therefore, I suggest looking for a good quality liquid fish oil. I give my daughter NutriChem’s Pure Premium Pineapple Mango liquid fish oil. It is the highest potency fish oil we carry and although not marketed for kids, a ¼ tsp dose is appropriate for children two and over (check with your child’s health care practitioner if right for you). Bonus is that it is also great for adults. This fish oil’s taste is mild enough that my daughter will eat the whole dose on its own. Again, if your child is a little bit pickier, you can always add it to a bit of juice, applesauce, yogurt etc.. We keep samples of this available so just ask for a taste! And if you would be more comfortable using a child’s fish oil liquid, the favourite in store is NutraSea Omega-3 Kids Bubble Gum Flavour.
Some kids don’t like fish so finding a source of omegas can be difficult, which is why we like fish oil. Combinations of the Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in children have been shown to reduce the risk of allergies and asthma later on in life. DHA, or docsahexanoic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid, is one of the main fats in the brain and is essential for normal brain function. In infants, DHA is important for optimal visual and cognitive development. In kids-specific fish oil formulas you will often see a higher DHA component.
Immune Boosting SOS
Every September, after the first week or so of school, we get an onslaught of exhausted, overwhelmed and worried parents whose children are already sick and missing school and this year with a global Pandemic this has been amplified by a million. So what should you do about boosting your little one’s immune? Well, besides probiotics, there is a lot we can do. The most popular product for kids is St Francis’s Deep Immune for kids, and with good reason. Deep Immune Kids is helpful to improve immune function and decrease the tendency of frequent colds, flu and infection. I also give my 3 year old daughter two SISU Vitamin C U-Cubes daily to help boost her immune. You can also try Astragalus and codonopsis, which are used in Herbal Medicine to help maintain a healthy immune system and as vital energy tonics for fatigue. It doesn’t have a very pleasant taste, but adding a little bit of water or juice can help.
How to Make Giving Supplements to Kids Easier (On the parents of course)
Set yourself up for success when giving your kids supplements by preparing everything first. I actually keep a tray on my dining room table out at all times (except when we have company over) that has all the products that I give my daughters on a daily basis and the little spoons I put the liquid in. I have a little section in the fridge for all my refrigerated products (liquid fish oil has to be refrigerated after opening!). This way I am not running around trying to gather everything during the hectic morning routine.
Let your kids be involved in their health and supplement routine! My daughter will ask for “her vitamins” if I am slow to get them out to her in the morning. She also knows when she has a sore tummy that she gets probiotics and says “for her tummy”. Kids like to be involved! Getting them involved in their health and teaching them why they are taking supplements is a benefit for everyone.
Make sure you and your partner on the same page with what to give and when. My husband and I have made it part of our routine so whoever is preparing breakfast for the girls also gives them their vitamins. Choose a plan that works for you so that there is no uncertainty as to whether your children have taken their vitamins or not.
At NutriChem, myself and other staff try out a lot of the products for kids and babies so that we can share products we love and tips and tricks! Please ask us anytime as we have lots staff that are parents, we get it! We allow parents to taste test samples of fish oil and multivitamins, or if they prefer they can take it home to test with their children. Please enquire at the front desk!