The Best for Kids

Growing children need a varied and nutrient-dense diet. But their increased intake of fast foods and sodas, along with a lack of fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, whole grains, lean meats, and fish, means kids are eating excess fats and empty calories. Today's youngsters aren't getting enough "micronutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, D, and C, and folic acid," finds the American Heart Association.

Whole, organic foods
"Ensure [that] your child is getting enough whole, organic foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed complex car-bohydrates [like high-fiber cereal, whole-grain bread, and beans], quality protein, and nuts and seeds," advises board-certified nutritionist Renee A. Simon, MS, CNS.

Besides being produced without the use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, genetically modified organisms, and sewage sludge (a source of heavy metals), organic foods appear higher in certain vitamins and minerals than conventional produce.

Supplements for kids
Some researchers wonder if attention problems and hyperactivity may be a nutrition deficit, since essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals can help kids learn. School children who took a daily multiple that supplied half the recommended daily allowance for three months tested higher on IQ measures than they did prior to supplementation.

Even though obese youngsters consume too many calories, 81 percent were low in vitamin E, 55 percent were deficient in calcium, and 46 percent didn't get sufficient vitamin D, a recent study finds. Offer your children nutrient-rich whole foods-and an age-appropriate multi.

While toxic overloads of vitamins or minerals are rare, they can occur, especially with overly sweetened multiples. Keep supplements out of reach, and read labels carefully to avoid artificial colors and sweeteners in children's multis.

Selected Sources

"Dietary Recommendations for Children and Adolescents: A Guide for Practitioners" by American Heart Association et al., Pediatrics, 2/06; "EFA Supplementation in Children with Inattention, Hyperactivity, and Other Disruptive Behaviors" by L. Stevens et al., Lipids, 2003; "Elevating Antioxidant Levels in Food through Organic Farming and Food Processing" by Charles M. Benbrook, PhD, Organic Center State of Science Review, 1/05; Take Back Your Health, a Total Wellness Guide for You and Your Family by Renee A. Simon, MS, CNS ($17.95, iUniverse, 2005)

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