29 Dec Does my child need a supplement?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: “Supplements may be useful when they fill a specific nutrient gap that can not or is not otherwise being met by the individuals intake of food.”
Does your child:
- Eat a variety of foods?
- Have a feeding problem that lasts for several weeks?
- Have poor dietary habits that affect their intake?
- Have a food allergy that requires the elimination of an entire food group?
- Follow a vegan or vegetarian diet?
- Have a medical condition that affects intake or absorption?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child might very well need a dietary supplement.
Choosing what and how much to give your child is an individual decision and will depend on their unique needs and nutritional status.
For example, a child with a milk allergy might be able to meet nutrients lost through elimination of this food group by consuming more: fortified milk substitutes, leafy greens, calcium-fortified foods, and other high protein foods such as eggs, meats and legumes. If, however, intake of these other food groups is not high enough, a supplement may be necessary.
When choosing a supplement it is important to consult with your physician and/or a Registered Dietitian for guidance.
Keep the following in mind when giving a supplement to your child:
- Only give in recommended doses. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.
- Supplements are not intended to forgo healthy eating. Nothing can replace healthy nutritional habits.
- Supplements are not candy. Even if they come in fancy shapes, colors and flavors.
- Enriched and fortified foods may have the same added nutrients that a supplement has.
Real foods contain nutrients that pills can not offer. When we take a nutrient out of a food and concentrate it in a pill, it’s not the same thing. Nothing can replace healthy dietary habits. If you question if your child needs a supplement, consult with a health care professional.