In an ideal world, our children would be getting their vitamins directly from the diet they eat. It is possible to provide a balanced diet so rich in essential vitamins and minerals that no supplement is required. However, there are not many children who would actually eat everything you needed them to in order to get all the nutrition they need.
As a working mom, I regrettably fall foul to the pressures of too much to do and head for the instant Mac n’ Cheese or frozen chicken nuggets. While it goes against every bone in my body, I know I have to cut myself some slack and feel good that at least I read the labels and bought the healthiest instant food I could find…organic if possible…and I let it go: I need to stay sane!
Then there is the school lunch issue. Okay, I could go on for hours here and may in later posts, but I know my kids don’t eat the whole healthy lunch they take to school because a) they are too busy talking, b) I am not there to make sure they do, and c) the school lunch time provides a meager 20 minutes for the children to enter, seat themselves, find their lunches, eat, clear up and be on line for the teacher. That is not a healthy situation, and I know it limits the amount of food that can be consumed. So, no matter how healthy I make the lunch, not all the goodness goes in!
We also have the picky eater syndrome to contend with. I have yet to meet a child who eats a totally well-rounded diet on a daily basis, meeting all nutritional requirements. I have hidden good food such as spinach, sweet potato, kale etc. but the food detectives always manage to detect it and begin the winey food play which usually ends with the “no more food so eat it,” ultimatum, followed by me finally giving up and letting my kids stay hungry rather than cave in to their demands. (Okay, I’m a stressed out mommy-maniac who also gives in completely from time to time and replaces the food with another heathy choice I know they will eat.)
To avoid worrying about having enough fruit and vegetables in your child’s diet, try out the Nutrition Calculator over at Kaboose.
In order to feel a little more secure in providing all the nutrients my little ones need to grow up big and strong, I resorted to vitamins and supplements. I remained very conscious that these were merely insurance against days I didn’t get the healthy quota of nutrition into my fussy eaters, rather than the only way. I was also aware of the scams out there…have you seen the price of these supplements? 😮
I like to target my children’s needs. For example, Button could not take multi-vitamins while on treatment but needed large quantities of calcium and vitamin D. Peanut was identified as deficient in vitamin D so he also had those supplements. Both children have Omega 3.
There is a challenge for moms to buy the best quality vitamins for children. At first I scanned the shelves of regular food stores and saw “sugar with a dose of vitamin thrown in”. Added to the sugar I also noted so many colorings and words I could not pronounce, I felt like the small amount of goodness I was looking for did not warrant the huge amount of junk I would also be putting into my kids’ bodies. Eventually I found some brands that were well recommended and contained organic ingredients and far less junk. I felt so good as I bought them up and added some very large amounts to my credit card.
My smugness did not last long: here is a list of the okay and the very bad compiled by Treehugger based on the FDA’s findings. I use these terms because any lead in a vitamin is not good, no matter how small.
Top 10 children’s vitamins with the least lead (0-6 years)
1. Twinlab Infant Care
2. Natrol Liquid Kids Companion
3. NF Formulas Liquid Pediatric
4. Windmill Bite-A-Mins 5. Kids Liquid Dolphin Pals
6. My First Flintstones
7. Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins Plus Extra C
8. Uno Diario Ninos
9. Flintstones Plus Immunity Support
10. Natural Wealth Children’s Chewable Multivitamins
Top 10 children’s vitamins with the most lead (0-6 years)
1. Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Shake
2. Superior Multi Age
3. Nutraceutical Pedia Power
4. Physio Kids Multilogics Chewable
5. Ola Loa Kids
6. Nature’s Plus Animal Parade
7. Vita-Big-Kids8. Wonder Laboratories Formula Nineteen
9. Clinicians Choice Chewable Daily Multivitamins
10. Dynamic Health Multi for Children
Top 10 children’s vitamins with the least lead (7+ years)
1. Lil Critters Drop Zone for Teens
2. Nutrition Now Zow for Teens
3. Michael’s For Pre-Teen Boys
4. Michael’s For Teen Boys
5. Puritan’s Pride Mega Vita Min For Teens
6. Michael’s Pre-Teen Girls
7. Michael’s Teen Girls
8. Good ‘N Natural Ultra Teen
9. Futurebiotics Derma Teen
10. GNC Mega Teen
Top 10 children’s vitamins with the most lead (7+ years)
1. Kal Enhanced Energy Teen Complete
2. Clinical Nutrients for Female Teens
3. Clinical Nutrients For Male Teens
4. Doctor’s Choice For Male Teens
5. Maxi Teen Supreme
6. Rainbow Light Active Health TEEN
7. Nature’s Plus Source of Life Power Teen
8. FoodScience Teen’s Superior
9. Esteem Total Teen
10. Vitanica Women’s Symmetry
Scary huh? I have not heard of most of these vitamins but it made me look carefully at what I was giving my kids. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I discovered those wonderful calcium pills I had been giving my kids were on the bad list! Sickened, I felt very angry about the whole vitamin thing. I know I need to supplement, heck, my children both need vitamin D and Button still has to have Calcium….just not the uber organic, super-helathy looking one I had so proudly been giving him. I had also been adding plenty of lead too!
I have decided to promote healthy eating to an even greater degree, rather than go crazy with vitamins. What do you do? Have you found healthy vitamins for your children? Where do you stand on the vitamin debate?