Is your child a picky eater? Is your kid experiencing delayed growth? Do you think starting a health supplement is the right option for your kid? If yes, you are not the only one. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2010, suggest that 31% kids take health supplements for various reasons.
There are many health supplements available on the market that claim to provide best health benefits. Confused as to which health supplement you should buy? Let’s see what you should consider before buying a health supplement.
Know if your child requires a health supplement:
Various pediatric and nutritional organization have strongly recommended a balanced healthy diet as the best source of nutrition for healthy kids. But, in case of any nutritional deficiencies, one may opt for health supplements. However, health supplements are not substitutes for a healthy diet.
In kids, health supplements are recommended in the following cases:
1. Delayed developmental or physical growth.
2. Allergies or chronic disorders, resulting in a nutritional deficiency.
3. Restrictive diet e.g. vegan, where certain nutrients are not a part of the diet.
Consider the following when buying health supplements:
1. Read the label: The label provides the necessary details like percentage of each ingredient, serving size, dosage, etc. Check if the health supplement fulfills special nutritional requirements of your kid. Moreover, the daily value of vitamin should be 100%.
2. Protein content: Protein plays an important in growth and development. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein is as follow:
0-6 months: 9.1 gm/day
7-12 months: 11 gm/day
1-3 years: 13 gm/day
4-8 years: 19 gm/day
One glass of skimmed milk provides 8 gm of protein. Part of the recommended dose can be obtained by drinking milk, rest can be provided by the health supplement. Thus, a health supplement with approximately 40% RDA should be selected.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA): You hear DHA a lot these days and that’s for a reason. A developing brain requires omega-3 fatty acids, mainly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), especially in kids between 3-5 years of age. There is no recommended daily intake, but researchers recommend 150-300 mg of DHA or EPA/day, which should be checked before buying the product.
4. Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets (bone-softening disease). The recommended dose is 5 microgram /day in kids who consume less than 32 ounces of milk.
Calcium: This mineral is vital for healthy bone growth. Parents usually wonder what its exact requirement is. AAP recommends:
0-6 months: 210 mg
6-12 months: 270 mg
1-3 years: 500 mg
4-8 years: 800 mg
5. Iron content: Iron is essential for fast-growing toddlers and its deficiency can lead to anemia. The recommended dose is:
0-6 months: 0.27 mg
6-12 months: 11 mg
1-3 years: 7 mg
4-8 years: 10 mg
6. Medical conditions: Health supplement can be harmful in certain medical conditions. Like taking an iron supplement when suffering from a hereditary disorder hemochromatosis, where iron accumulates in the body, could be harmful as it further increases the iron level and in turn the risk of liver damage.
Before starting any health supplement, make sure that you consult your doctor.