There’s the optimal life, which we should all strive towards- and then there’s what actually happens. We all, as busy parents, have bought fast food because travel time from point A to point B was the only time anyone was going to get to eat. Most of us are guilty of occasionally handing over a screen because we needed to get something done. Perhaps, as an expression of love, we have overscheduled our children. Or maybe your kid isn’t into optimal health. We all know a couch potato who’s really proud of their mountain dew habit, and maybe your kid is that guy. A question that I get all the time is “What Should My Kid Be Taking?”
Keep in mind that this is very generalized and while it will work for most kids, this list may not fully work for your kid. For an individualized consultation to find your kid’s foundations to health, schedule here: https://vitalitynw.com
NOT a flinstones vitamin. Those things don’t hit the recommended daily allowances AND they have food dyes in them known to stunt germ cells, aka cause infertility. Anyway.
I often recommend a multivitamin because I know lots of kids that are not eating a healthy and balanced diet- especially teens and toddlers. Kids who get supplemented with a multi tend to grow faster and have more favorable blood markers. (as per usual, sources at the bottom)
We in the United States have some bonus issues- magnesium is very depleted from the soil and hard to get in adequate amounts, and we rely heavily on milk products for calcium despite pretty much everyone who didn’t come from an ancestral nomadic cow tending background not being able to tolerate milk. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Mexico and Vietnam.
In addition, we as a culture have abruptly stopped eating organ meats in the last 2 decades. Mass availability at the grocery store, losing touch with our food chain, and unethical practices have made it acceptable to waste a ton of meat harvested for consumption. That means we’re totally missing out on liver and onions, sweatbread, and all of the things that people don’t eat when given the option to just eat steak regardless of how many cows die for that meat. That’s a totally different soapbox but it’s relevant because if you’re not eating organ meat, you probably have suboptimal B vitamins and Iron.
What about those B vitamins anyway? Well first of all, they’re pretty specifically animal derived. Vegans, you MUST add B vitamins in some way. On top of that, 1/5th of the population has a genetic switch that makes it really hard for people to use their B vitamins to make neurotransmitters and optimize their cholesterol profile. That genetic issue is usually in the Methylation Pathway and sometimes you need to have special activated B vitamins to make that work. Dr. Bob is writing about B vitamins soon! The multivitamin that we keep on hand has those special B vitamins in them because they tend to be the kind that kids with high anxiety, depression, ADHD, or who don’t fit the neurotypical profile need. You can check those out here.
Each kid has a different genetic need for specific vitamins, and if you want to know exactly how the methylation pathway is working for them, I can help you figure that out.
C’mon folks. You live in the Pacific Northwest. We average 220 cloudy days a year in Portland. The only time the sun’s rays are at an angle where you can absorb Vit D is from 11 am – 2pm, and sunscreen blocks absorption. Above the 45th parallel (between here and salem so yes, my patients mostly live above that) the sun is at the wrong angle from the beginning of fall to the beginning of spring to even make it. And I know the vast majority of y’all aren’t hanging out naked, sans sunscreen, between 11am and 2 pm, for 20 minutes. I have, so far in practice, never seen a vitamin D come back optimal without supplementation. (Insert rant here about how industrialization and seasonal changes in work have made this a necessary practice.)
Along with our general refusal to eat organ meats came a serious decline in healthy fat consumption. As it turns out, coconut oil is not the only answer. Omega 3’s are important for immune regulation, mood, asthma, and allergies. Most people think fish, or more specifically “I’ll just have a tuna sandwich and then I’ll be set”. Wrong- Tuna is wicked mercury contaminated, and guess what? Mercury is fat soluble. You don’t want to be eating compounded mercury, so stick to smaller fish like sardines or anchovies 1-2 times a week. For the vegan alternative you can do ground flax seed or flax oil, but Flax oil goes rancid very quickly so you need to follow some special storage guidelines. The usual therapeutic maintenance dose of Omega 3s for the over 1 year old set is 1000 mg. Yes, 1,000. Yes, that means the fancy juice plus chewables that just came out require you to take 12 at a time for an effective dose. The one we keep in stock for kids is only 1 tsp, but only 33% of my kids like it. This can be a tricky thing to get the smalls to take in adequate supplementation. Try to make tuna salad with sardines instead. It’ll blow your mind.
What about Omega 6’s and 9’s? Marketing gimmick. Your body makes those all by itself, and our diet tends to be heavily biased towards Omega 6’s anyways.
Then there’s all the kerfuffle about probiotics. In a world where 1/3 of our kids get antibiotics at birth, it’s safe to say that the biome is significantly impacted. Since 90% of your immune system lives in your gut and 90% of your serotonin aka happy chemical get made in your gut, it’s a really important part of the puzzle for optimal health.
This is also where I’ll make my argument that traditional fermented foods are important for the diet- kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickled beets, kimchi- they’re all fermented and mostly done with exactly the strains that I like to be in probiotics.
We source ours from Klaire Labs because they’re the right kinds of bacteria at the right doses (and stored at the right temperature, which is refrigerated)
These above things have to rest on a foundation of healthy practices to be of any use. They’ll help fill in the holes for the days where you’re too busy, or for when things fall through the cracks. They have to be added to basic lifestyle principles, which is my next blog post.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27083763 zinc + multi = grow higher
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2083301/ Healthy diet instead of multi, but add D in UK
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3873849/ who uses multis
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24801466 probably modulates asthma and allergies
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2661342/ some kids only need more omegas to control mood issues
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18061785 probiotics help with immune and gut regulation