Do your kids really need a multi?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

By Cliff Harvey PhD

The simple answer to this question is that no, kids (like adults) don’t need to take a multivitamin or multimineral supplement. Given the right food, lifestyle, and environment, humans are more than adequately equipped to gain all the required nutrients through our diet. However, there can be compelling reasons to consider a supplement to help support optimal growth and performance, particularly with modern-day diets.

Do you get what you need from diet alone?

As adults, many of you don’t get all the essential micronutrients that you need to thrive from your diet alone. This is especially true of vitamins A, B1, B6 and B12, plus iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Without all of these vital nutrients, you are unable to perform at your best or have robust good health, and this is true for kids, too!

Why you don’t always get what you need from your diet alone

The major reason for not getting all you need from diet alone is simple: people eat more refined and processed foods. In Australia, around one third or more of daily energy intake comes from ‘discretionary foods’, which are defined as  “foods and drinks not necessary to provide the nutrients the body needs” but which are rich in calories. 

Over time, people are also eating fewer nutrient-rich whole foods, with less than half consuming the recommended amounts of vegetables and fruit that you should to optimise health. 

The US Department of Agriculture data shows that some fresh produce (vegetables, fruits, and berries) may only provide around half the amounts of some vitamins and minerals that they did in the 1950s. So, while you have been eating more over time, and taking in more than enough calories and ‘fuel’, you aren’t necessarily getting enough of the ‘little guys’ – the vitamins, minerals and secondary nutrients that help every system of your body run optimally.

There are additional reasons why your diet are becoming more insufficient, including:

  • Increasingly stressful lifestyles which increase your demand for micronutrients
  • A longer ‘food chain’ (i.e. more time in transport and storage and less local, fresh produce) which can reduce the amounts of nutrients 
  • Lack of variety in food choices 

How can a multi help kids?

A multi is never a substitute for healthy eating, and the focus should always be on working towards a diet mostly based on natural, unrefined foods. Multis can be beneficial to help fill the gaps in nutrition though and are considered a safe and effective way to ensure a healthy intake of essential and beneficial nutrients. 

Ensuring nutrient density

The shift towards more sugar and more ‘ultra-refined’ processed foods has been detrimental to kids’ health, and your key focus should be on encouraging the receptive minds of young people to become reconnected with real food. 

  • Try to make at least 80 percent of what you put on your child’s plate natural, whole, unprocessed food
  • Choose natural, unrefined carbohydrate choices (such as sweet potato, yams, potato and some whole, unprocessed grains) over pasta, bread, crackers and other refined choices
  • Choose water over fruit juices
  • Get kids eating vegetables early! Much of your food preferences are based on what you ‘learn’ to eat early in life
  • Use smoothies made with whole, unprocessed foods (such as vegetables, berries, nuts and nut butter, seeds and fruit) as an option in addition to meals to boost vegetable intake
  • Consider a wholefood-based multi-nutrient supplement.

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat, but you should always try to prioritise whole, natural, foods to provide the essential nutrients that growing and active bodies (and minds) need.

   

Dietary supplements are not a replacement for a balanced diet. Always read the label and use as directed. References:
1. University of Otago and Ministry of Health. A Focus on Nutrition: Key findings of the 2008/09 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey. Wellington; 2011.
2. ABS. Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results‐Foods and Nutrients, 2011‐12. Australian Bureau of Statistics Canberra; 2014.
3. Annual Update of Key Results 2014/15. Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Health. ; 2015.
4. Davis DR, Epp MD, Riordan HD. Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004;23(6):669-82.
5. Biesalski HK, Tinz J. Multivitamin/mineral supplements: rationale and safety – A systematic review. Nutrition.
6. Vinod Kumar M, Rajagopalan S. Trial using multiple micronutrient food supplement and its effect on cognition. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics. 2008;75(7):671-8.
7. Arora J, Jeon M, Marvasti Y, Holz E, Yuvaraj S, Morris L, et al. 133 the effectiveness of riboflavin (vitamin b2) in preventing migraine episodes in the paediatric population: a comprehensive review. Journal of Investigative Medicine. 2018;66(1):A121.
8. Kelishadi R, Farajzadegan Z, Bahreynian M. Association between vitamin D status and lipid profile in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International journal of food sciences and nutrition. 2014;65(4):404-10.
9. Galescu OA, Crocker MK, Altschul AM, Marwitz SE, Brady SM, Yanovski JA. A pilot study of the effects of niacin administration on free fatty acid and growth hormone concentrations in children with obesity. Pediatric Obesity. 2018;13(1):30-7.
10. Colletti RB, Roff NK, Neufeld EJ, Baker AL, Newburger JW, McAuliffe TL. Niacin Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia in Children. Pediatrics. 1993;92(1):78-82.
11. Filgueiras MS, Rocha NP, Novaes JF, Bressan J. Vitamin D status, oxidative stress, and inflammation in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2018:1-10.
12. Gunanti IR, Al-Mamun A, Schubert L, Long KZ. The effect of zinc supplementation on body composition and hormone levels related to adiposity among children: a systematic review. Public Health Nutrition. 2016;19(16):2924-39.
13. Pimpin L, Liu E, Shulkin M, Duggan C, Fawzi W, Mozaffarian D. The Effect of Zinc Supplementation during Pregnancy and Youth on Child Growth up to 5 Years: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The FASEB Journal. 2016;30(1_supplement):671.7-.7.
14. Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, Pradal-Prat D, Rapin J, Bali JP. Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Magnes Res. 2006;19(1):46-52.
15. Huang Y-H, Zeng B-Y, Li D-J, Cheng Y-S, Chen T-Y, Liang H-Y, et al. Significantly lower serum and hair magnesium levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than controls: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. 2019;90:134-41.
16. Warthon-Medina M, Moran VH, Stammers AL, Dillon S, Qualter P, Nissensohn M, et al. Zinc intake, status and indices of cognitive function in adults and children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015;69(6):649-61.
17. Heydarian F, Ahanchian H, Khalesi M, Ebrahimi S. The effect of serum levels of vitamin C on asthmatic children: a systematic review. Reviews in Clinical Medicine. 2016;3(3):87-92.
18. Jat KR. Vitamin D deficiency and lower respiratory tract infections in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Tropical Doctor. 2016;47(1):77-84.
19. Rajabbik MH, Lotfi T, Alkhaled L, Fares M, El-Hajj Fuleihan G, Mroueh S, et al. Association between low vitamin D levels and the diagnosis of asthma in children: a systematic review of cohort studies. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 2014;10(1):31.
20. Fares MM, Alkhaled LH, Mroueh SM, Akl EA. Vitamin D supplementation in children with asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Research Notes. 2015;8(1):23.


author:

Related Items

You might also like