Thursday, February 10, 2011

Optimal Nutrition for Kids

From time to time someone asks me to recommend nutritional products for kids, and I think it surprises most folks that I do not rely on kids products to nourish my own children. The reason being is because I feel that many kids products are not well made, and most do not provide the kind of optimal nutrition that I want for my own kids. While I do use some chewables, these are more for occasional use rather than staples in my children's diets.

So what do I recommend for kids?

For starters, I like the idea of providing broad-spectrum plant-based phytonutrients for children, since many kids' diets are lacking in broad spectrum nutrition. So using a broad-spectrum product containing things like powdered acai berry, cabbage, carrots, etc is a great way to fill in the gaps in the average American kids' diet. And make sure the product says "100% organic," or else its contains pesticides. If the product tastes decent, you can easily add it to apple sauce, yogurt, or a smoothie and the child likely won't be able to tell the difference. There are a few "gummy bear" or chewable versions of phytonutrient products, but I don't trust them, and they aren't potent enough anyway. So I prefer the adult versions that are powdered so I can easily adjust the dose for my kids and know that I'm providing sophisticated nutrition.

Secondly, a high-potency fish oil product is a must for kids, because omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in the neurological development of children, and the neurological system is still developing through the early 20s. While there are plenty of fish oil kids products in the form of gummy bears, chewable capsules, and pudding type of products, I've never liked any of these simply because none of them provide the kind of potency that I believe kids really need. So I opt for an adult-potency liquid product that I can give my little ones in a teaspoon or mixed in a smoothie or apple sauce. When it comes to omega-3s, you almost can't overdo it, so more appears to always be better.

Thirdly, I feel that daily or at least occasional probiotics are important, because probiotics help to colonize the GIs of our little ones, which helps to strengthen their immune sytems. Remember that 60-70% of the body's immune defenses are concentrated in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), and about that much serotonin is made there as well. So it's critical that gut ecology be intact in order to preserve and support all the functions of the GI. Therefore, a good strong probiotic product is in order at least a few days per week, if not every day. These are easily administered mixed in yogurt or apple sauce. They don't taste like anything, so they are usually not noticed.

In times of crisis or acute illness, I think it's also a good idea to have some emergency medicine on hand in the form of a vitamin C powder. Kids usually respond really well to quality supplementation, and it's amazing what a gram or two of buffered vitamin C powder can do.

I recall one episode when my youngest son, Drew, was a newborn, about 3 months of age. He had come down with a serious fever that went all night at a dangerous level. I was hesitant to give a child that young a vitamin C powder because of how undeveloped the GI is at that age, but then I remembered that Ultra Potent C is a neutral pH. So we gave him about an eighth of a teaspoon in water, and that stubborn fever broke in about twenty minutes. Amazing. Since then I've had numerous episodes of heading off a sickness at the pass in my kids just by super-dosing vitamin C in a powder form.

Beyond that, some parents may opt for a good broad-spectrum multiple formula, and if so, I again shy away from chewables in favor of the more potent powders that can be mixed in juice or a smoothie.

Research suggests that the working capacity of school age children can be significantly improved just by supplementing with vitamin C alone, so imagine what can be accomplished by supplementing with a broad array of important nutrients! A child's intelligence, moods and behavior, and physical and mental development can be greatly enhanced just by adding nutrients to the diet that may be deficient.