Another time when nutrition is incredibly important and sometimes difficult to accomplish is during childhood. I can’t emphasize enough how important a healthy diet is for growing children, but some nutritional gaps can still occur because of soil deficiencies, lack of variety in the diet, or environmental factors.
A high quality and varied diet should absolutely be the top priority but there are some supplements that can help fill in any holes in a child’s diet. Just as during pregnancy or nursing, this is a time when one should be very careful about the supplements given and choose only high-quality supplements from verifiable sources.
On top of making sure that kids are consuming a lot of protein from quality sources, an abundance of green veggies and plenty of healthy fats, I often find that children benefit from:
Probiotics: Especially if they’ve ever been on antibiotics, children can greatly benefit from quality probiotics. Their gut flora is still developing, and supporting gut health during childhood will have much more of an effect than attempting to supplement later in life (though I recommend it then too). We use Bio Kult probiotics, which are the strongest ones I’ve personally tried. I notice a distinct difference in my digestion when I take them, and the pills are small enough for most kids to swallow, or they can be opened and added to food. Since I had to take antibiotics during my delivery with my fourth, I have been rubbing probiotics on the inside of her mouth since she was a few weeks old to help build her positive gut bacteria and taking it myself so she gets it while nursing. Another reason I prefer BioKult, is that the capsules are individually wrapped and don’t have to be refrigerated, which makes them much more convenient. One capsule is typically adequate for children up to 12 years old. I take 4 of these capsules a day and others may need more or less.
Vitamin D: I’m a firm believer that kids should be getting their Vitamin D outside, in the sun, and preferably barefoot. This works great in the summer, but it is more difficult in the winter, or if you live in an area where you don’t have access to direct sun daily. Most children’s vitamins contain Vitamin D (though not enough!) but the issue of supplementing Vitamin D in children can be controversial. Personally, my kids each get a 5,000 IU capsule of Vitamin D3 per WEEK. I do check their levels about once a year in the winter to make sure they aren’t getting too much, and I’d recommend this, especially if you plan to give your children higher doses. If you can get your kids to routinely take fermented cod liver oil (see below) you probably don’t need any additional supplementation unless you are in an area where sun exposure is not ever possible.
Vitamin C: I always keep Vitamin C on hand, and we’ve avoided many trips to the doctor because of this and Homemade Elderberry Syrup. I add about 1/4 tsp of vitamin C powder to the kids water or smoothie once a day (it is bitter!) to keep their immune systems bolstered… mainly in the winter. During illness, we take Vitamin C powder until we hit bowel tolerance (diarrhea) and then back down to 3/4 that dose until the illness is gone. There are also some good chewable versions, which are much easier to get kids to take.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil:This is the toughest one to get kids to take, but the one I notice the most difference in their mood (much calmer) and concentration when they take. It comes as a gel, and I typically add it to smoothies or spread on a banana nut coconut muffin to get them to take it (it tastes pretty awful by itself!) There are capsules of this, but my guys can’t swallow that big of one yet, so we stick to the gel version. The best brand I’ve found is Green Pastures, which also includes the High Vitamin Butter Oil, which is excellent for brain development and muscle growth. My 8 month old has gotten this since she started eating foods at 6 months and she just started walking (not super excited about this!).
Magnesium Baths: I take Natural Calm and use magnesium oil on my skin, but the easiest thing for the kids is to just add about 1/2 cup of epsom salts or magnesium crystals to their bath water so they can absorb it through their skin. You can also give kids about 1/2 tsp dose of Natural Calm, which is fizzy like soda and some really like it.
Chlorophyll: Or “Pond Water” as my kids call it, is the concentrated green pigment from plants and it has an alkalizing and detoxifying effect on the digestive track and blood. My kids get a glass of chlorophyll in water each day, and 4-5 glasses if they get sick. This brand has a minty taste and doesn’t taste like grass like some brands.
Gelatin: Gelatin is excellent for intestinal health and for hair, skin and nails. We try to eat homemade bone broth, but I also occasionally make the kids healthy jello to give them some extra gelatin intake. I drink it in smoothies or in warm water, and also sometimes sneak it into the kids smoothies. I’ve been able to verify that this brand is from grass-fed, humanely raised cows and doesn’t contain any additives or pesticide residue.
Multivitamin: Our kids don’t typically get a multivitamin, but there is no harm in giving kids a multivitamin, especially if you are still in the process of improving their diets and are worried about certain deficiencies. This is one of the very few that I’ve found without gluten, soy or dairy, but please let me know in the comments if you have a better brand!
Do your kids take supplements? Which ones do they take? Share below!