Guide Six: Supplements

Presenter: Natalia Stasenko


Hi everybody. I’m Natalia, one of the group moderators and fitting professionals taking care of you in this group. In this video, we’d like to talk to you about supplements. I’m a dietitian. So, I give a lot of advice to parents about supplements. And most of the time, my recommendation is to try to meet your child’s nutritional requirements through diet. Yet, there are specific cases where supplements may be appropriate, but we can obtain all the nutrients we need for our children through diet. The only exception is vitamin D which we get from the sun.  We typically rely on the government recommendations that specify how much vitamin D our kids should be taking.

So, does your child need a supplement?

Well, your child does not need a supplement if:

  1. They’re eating some fruits and vegetables every day.
  2. If they eat cold water fish a couple of times a week, or they eat nuts and seeds daily.
  3. If they have two/three servings of calcium, rich foods, a day. Calcium rich foods include and non-dairy alternatives. (If they drink iodine fortified dairy, or non-dairy drink.)
  4. Are not vegan.
  5. And also, {if they} don’t have any medical conditions that may interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients from their gut.

So, If your child meets all of these requirements (meets all these criteria) then they do not need any supplement except for vitamin D. If your child does not meet these criteria and you do you feel like they’re missing a couple of points, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or dietitian first before choosing a supplement because your child may not need a comprehensive multivitamin.

Maybe you have a teen who suddenly stopped drinking milk and doesn’t want to accept any non-dairy sources of calcium and doesn’t have a way of meeting their calcium needs with other food sources. {In this case} maybe your doctor, or dietitian, will recommend a specific calcium supplement for your teen.

Or maybe you have a vegan child who eats a stellar diet, but, may still need vitamin B12 supplemented because it’s impossible to obtain it through non-animal sources.

So, it’s always advisable to talk to a doctor, or dietitian, before heading out to the pharmacy and getting a supplement that “looks good”.

If you decide to go ahead and choose this supplement, I encourage you to choose one that doesn’t provide too much nutrition. Make sure that the amounts of vitamins and minerals that this supplement provides are not more than a hundred percent of their recommended daily values for your child. Also, make sure to check, what age the supplements are geared to {cater for}. {This is} because many of them are not appropriate for younger children. It’s also helpful to know that many popular gummy vitamins that we see in many pharmacies or grocery shops are not really comprehensive.

If you are seriously worried about your child’s nutrition, talk to a professional for personalized recommendations.

You may be buying those gummy vitamins, thinking that you’re giving your child the nutrition that they need, but they may not have all these key nutrients that your child needs. For example, if you have a very selective child, {and they are} struggling to get enough iron, most of gummy vitamins do not contain iron because it’s very difficult to hide its taste. So, you need to make sure that you get personalized recommendations if your child is very selective.

Also make sure to check and take fortified foods into account. It’s very easy to consume too much of certain nutrients, especially fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A for example. If you check the fortified cereal you have at home, chances are it provides a good percentage of vitamins. A good percentage of your child’s needs on a daily basis. And if you add a multivitamin that provides a hundred percent of vitamin A then your child may be getting too much. And if it has been happening over a very long time, then they may be getting too much and {your child} may accumulate too much vitamin A in their bodies.  And it ultimately can become toxic.

I don’t want to scare you, but, I want to encourage you to get professional advice before getting supplements for a child instead of relying on marketing or on what your friends or your family members are doing. And of course, always, always locate supplements in a cabinet where small children cannot access {them} because certain nutrients may be toxic when consumed in excess. I have already discussed vitamin A and another one is iron. Make sure, especially with the vitamins that tastes like candy, are not made available for small children to go and eat freely.

Finally, if you would like to learn more about specific nutrients that your child may be missing, due to their selective eating habits and how to help them meet their nutritional needs, even within their limited diet, I encourage you to check our subscription, Your Feeding Team. Here we have more information on nutrition, a lot of printouts and step-by-step instructions on how to create your child’s personalized nutritional plan so that they get the nutrition they need from food. And if you need recommendations on supplements, our main advice would be to get personalized suggestions and advice from a feeding professional.

Okay. It was nice to catch up with you. I hope you enjoyed this module, and I will see you in the next one.

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