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Many parents struggle with giving vitamins. After all they look a lot like medications: they come in pills, capsules, liquids, and powders. We even treat them a lot like medications: we talk about doses and timings and how they help heal and support the body systems.
Now we are supposed to give our children medicines without a doctor? The truth is doctors are not trained in the use of vitamins. In fact a doctor’s primary job is to diagnose and treat disease with medicine. They do not know how to keep your child healthy. Often they do not even know how to prevent the disease process (just treat it once it develops).
Vitamins are much more like food than medicine and parents have been feeding their children since the beginning of time. We are capable of making wise choices as long as we are armed with certain key pieces of knowledge.
- How do I choose a quality supplement?
- What the supplement can do for my child (why might I give it?)
- How to much to give/how often?
- How to know if I am giving enough/too much?
In the following posts I will answer the questions above so that you, the parent, will feel as capable and confident giving your child supplements and you do feeding them dinner.
How to Choose a Quality Supplement
All Are Not Created Equal
As you may have already experienced, figuring out how to choose a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement can be a confusing and time consuming task. There are several important factors that you should consider when looking for a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement.
One of the first and simplest things to look for which will indicate that you are getting a decent supplement is the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certification. This certification is important as it means the company has met certain industry specific conditions to ensure that quality controls are implemented and the environment your supplements are produced in is clean. This ensures the safety of your supplements.
The second thing to note is that your supplements have been third party tested for purity and potency. This ensures that what the company says is in the vitamin is in fact there. Having this done by a third party means that a company separate in every way from the manufacturer is double checking their work!
Once you have established the basic level of protection and oversight exists, there are a few other things you can look for to determine if the supplement you are going to buy is worth the hard earned money you are going to spend on it. There are a few questions you should keep in mind.
Will the Supplement Actually be Absorbed by your Body?
There are many steps that the ingredients in your vitamin and mineral supplement have to go through in order to make it all the way through your digestive tract, into your blood stream and ultimately to where your body needs them. It’s a complex process and there are many opportunities for the process to fail. Let’s look at some factors that can affect the journey your supplement takes and also affect how well your body can absorb a supplement’s ingredients.
What Is Bioavailability?
Bioavailability is the degree to which a nutrient is available to the body for use. From a non-biochemistry perspective: the nutrient has to make it all the way from your mouth to the cell and be in a form the cell can use.
What Is Chelation?
Chelation is very important when it comes to making sure that the minerals in your supplement are bioavailable. Chelation refers to a process that increases the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
It can be hard to get minerals all the way to that bioavailable state that was discussed earlier. Chelation involves wrapping the mineral in an amino acid so that the body can more easily absorb it. This can improve the absorption of some minerals from only 10% absorption for a non-chelated mineral to 45% or more for a chelated mineral. So when you are looking at the label of a vitamin supplement and you find a trace mineral such as selenium as one of the ingredients, you want to see something like “Selenium (as Selenium Chelate)” on the label. This indicates that the selenium mineral has been chelated.
If fifty people were given a piece a paper and asked to design their dream home you would probably see 50 different plans each as different as the next. But even though each of our lifestyles and needs differ, we have one thing in common. We all need to build our home on a solid foundation. I am sure this is not the first time you have heard someone use this very common analogy, but never is it more true than in your child’s supplement protocol.
Ideally you should always begin with a good quality multivitamin. It is truly amazing the variety of processes our bodies complete daily with just a few different nutrients. Taking a good quality multi often squelches the need for to many individual supplements.
Look for a multi with balanced B vitamins. High dose B vitamins may be beneficial for some of our children, but there are specific consideration to make when choosing to supplement individual Bs (I will go into more detail in a future post). For a balanced B look for one with equal amounts of B1, B2, and B6 with about 3x the B3. With decent amounts of other nutrients. To meet the needs of Autistic children it is best to look for one with higher levels of Vitamin D and Vitamin A as well as one free from copper, iron, and manganese.
The best time to give the multi is with meals as this most resembles how the body is naturally designed to extract nutrients. There is more stomach acid and bile available when taken with food and many nutrients require the presence of others for proper absorption.
- Shocking Statistics About Our Food Supply (cocreativehealthsolutions.wordpress.com)