Under a year of age, certain nutrients may be necessary, but these should be discussed with your child’s physician. Iron supplementation should be used if a baby is anemic and low in iron. Vitamin D is necessary if the baby is breastfed according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Please discuss these options with your child’s physician.
So, how does one make a choice for a nutritional supplement for children over a year of age? The multitude of choices available at drug stores or health food stores can be overwhelming. One problem consumers face is that the dietary supplement industry is not strictly regulated. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) restricted the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority over dietary supplements. The industry regulates supplements under food guidelines. There are no manufacturing or quality control testing requirements.
The cheapest product is not always the best. Quality products may demand higher prices. Research the company by examining their web site, if available, or contact the company for information or literature directly. Check to see if they have research scientists creating their product. Find out if the company is FDA registered and follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). A company that follows pharmaceutical guidelines for production is ideal. Look on the label and see if potency is guaranteed. Check the sugar and additive content of the vitamin. Many of the popular brands of children’s vitamins have sugar listed as the first or second ingredient.
A balance of vitamins and minerals should be offered to our children. Nutrients work together in synergy, which means that certain vitamins and minerals work cooperatively in different metabolic pathways in our cells and tissues. Correcting a deficiency of only one vitamin may cause a deficiency in other areas.
We are just starting to understand the role of certain nutrients in improving the health of children. Because of what is appearing in the adult literature about supplementation decreasing risks of heart disease and cancer, we need to take a serious look at supplementation for children. Could we further decrease risks of heart disease and cancer if children were given a nutritional supplement early in life? This information will take many more years to gather, but it is critical information for the future of our children. Why not start today?