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Are nutritional supplements safe for kids?

blog proactive parenting nutritional supplements for kids

Why do parents choose to give nutritional supplements to their children?

Most often, nutritional supplements or vitamins are given to children to make up for poor eating habits. When children have poor eating habits and insufficient nutrition, it is still advisable that parents reinforce a healthy, balanced diet before adding nutritional supplements. A balanced diet is full of macro and micro nutrients that are essential for healthy growth and development. Often nutritional supplements do not include the full range of nutrients necessary for complete nutrition. Additionally, as stated above, there are no well-researched levels stipulated for children. Therefore, nutritional supplements may be missing some nutrients while providing too much of others.

Are nutritional supplements regulated?

Another concerning issue of nutritional supplements is that they are not manufactured and regulated under the same strict conditions as medications. Companies that manufacture nutritional supplements are at their own discretion in choosing ingredients, testing the levels of active ingredients included in their products, labeling of their products, and ensuring quality. Lack of oversight can lead to less active ingredient than the label states, a completely different ingredient than what should be in the labeled product, a dirty product, mislabeled bottles, and a myriad of other issues. Making sure products are purchased from honest manufacturing facilities is vital for product safety and purity.

Finally, the packaging of nutritional supplements frequently do not have child-resistant safety mechanisms on their bottles. This may lead to accidental ingestion and toxicity. Many nutritional supplements for children are in bright colors, presented in candy form (e.g. gummy bears), and have colorful drawings on the packaging. This can encourage children to seek out the nutritional supplementation outside of parental supervision. If the packaging does not have a child-resistant cap, children may access the supplementation and ingest a toxic amount.

So, are nutritional supplements appropriate for children?

Parents, who feel that their children have poor dietary habits, should consider going back to the basics. Providing a wide variety of food choices throughout the week, encourage family meal times to model good dietary habits, limit snacking between meals to support a good appetite at meal time, and allow the child to choose how much they eat while the parent chooses what and when. The consequences of poor eating habits goes beyond just nutrition. For more information on how to improve family meal times, please check out my blog post titled “How to get your child to eat without a fight”.

If supplementation is preferred, seeking the assistance of a clinical nutritionist is recommended when providing supplements to children. Additionally, if parents do decide to supplement, there are reputable websites to help family know which manufactures are best. Here are two resources:

Eating a balanced diet full of whole foods is the best option for complete nutrition. However, some families feel strongly about nutritional supplements. In those cases, seeking the assistance of trained professionals, keeping supplements out of the reach of children and purchasing high quality supplements can help reduce the risks and maximize the benefits.

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Saturday, 21 September 2019

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