We live in a fast society and getting proper nutrition on the go isn't easy. Doctors say there's a way to help kids get the nutrients they need: supplements.
In the Parenting Project, Barbara Vaughan answers some important questions about how children should take their vitamins.
In an ideal world, our kids are eating a healthy diet filled with all the nutrients their bodies need. But most kids don't eat a well-balanced diet.
The Coffmans are a typical family playing America's pastime, but at dinnertime, things are less than picture-perfect. Mother Julie Coffman says "When I make dinner at night it's like I'm making two or three meals for everyone, so everyone can eat safely."
The Coffman kids have food allergies, making meals a challenge. But even families without those dietary issues struggle to ensure that their kids eat well and get the proper nutrients.
Dr. Alan Christianson, a Naturopathic Physician says "There are many pediatricians that are still of the old school that are saying you know if you're eating a healthy diet, which includes wonder bread, and fruit loops, you're gonna get everything you need and that's you know simply not true."
Dr. Christianson believes supplements can help families bridge the gap. The Coffman kids, for example, take fish oil, Omega 6, 3 & 9s, and a multivitamin which covers everything else.
Although the benefits of Omegas for kids is controversial, Julie Coffman says they helped her son in school, with focus and the ability to learn more quickly.
Dr. Christianson says you can find good chewable multi-vitamins, but he does caution not to over do it. "A lot of these things look and taste like candy and so it's not unheard of for kids to want seconds and thirds and so we discourage parents from accommodating those requests."
There are a couple of areas kids typically fall short.
According to Dr. Christianson, most children don't get enough iron, which is really important for growing, healing and a healthy immune system.
Some children don't get enough Vitamin C, an antioxidant that's important for brain development.
Calcium supplements may be important for kids who don't get enough milk or dairy products for strong bones and teeth.
In general, a good multi-vitamin should cover all those deficiencies.
As always, check with your family doctor before putting kids on supplements.
A pediatrician can give you the correct dosages or advise about any possible interactions with other medication.