I receive a lot of questions about the nutritional supplements we give to Oliver.
I have decided to write a post about it, with the caveat that this is only a description of what we do, and does not in any way constitute professional advice. Always, always do your own research, and be sure to consult with a doctor or nutritionist if you have questions or concerns.
To preface this, Oliver is a very good eater. He eats a variety of proteins (meat, fish, eggs), vegetables, fruits and fats. He does not consume any “empty” calories (e.g. juice, sugar, grain products). He still nurses two — sometimes three — times per day. As far as I am concerned, there are no gaps in his diet, and no behavioural issues that affect the quality, quantity or variety of the foods he is consuming. If there were, I would be working on addressing those issues first, rather than relying on supplementation to fill the gaps.
It is of the utmost importance to promote healthy eating habits first and foremost. Supplements are just the gravy — the extra 10 percent — but they cannot fully compensate for a poor nutritional foundation. Much like my condemnation of the practice of hiding puréed vegetables in food, I also do not advocate beefing up a child’s diet with the use of supplements, without addressing the underlying causes of any nutritional deficiencies.
With that out of the way, here is a list of the supplements that we feel complement Oliver’s diet and contribute to his optimal health:
1. Vitamin D. Health Canada recommends that children aged one through three receive a minimum of 600 IU of Vitamin D per day, not to exceed 2500 IU. Based on the research we have done, and because of Vancouver’s climate and latitude, we usually give Oliver 3000 IU of Vitamin D. We use Natural Factors Vitamin D3 Drops, which contain only olive oil and Vitamin D3, and are easy to administer to a baby or toddler.
2. Probiotics. With all of the nasty things Oliver puts into his mouth on a daily basis, and in consideration of the gastrointestinal illnesses that spread like wildfire at daycare, it only makes sense to keep Oliver’s gut flora as robust as possible. He receives one quarter to one half of a teaspoon of Udo’s Toddler Probiotic as a daily prophylactic. In the case of illness (or high potential for illness), we either boost the dose of his regular probiotics, or we give him a couple of teaspoons of Bio K+ fermented dairy instead.
3. Fish oil. DHA omega-3 is widely regarded as being essential to proper brain development in children. Oliver’s diet is not particularly lacking in omega-3 fatty acids (he eats two free-range eggs per day and fish twice per week), but we felt that a small amount of supplementation could still be beneficial. He receives one quarter to one half a teaspoon of NutraSea liquid fish oil, which provides 300 to 600 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA. We don’t bother with a child-specific formula; we just use the regular formula and adjust Oliver’s dose accordingly.
Although Oliver will happily take the supplements straight from a spoon or dropper, we have found that the fastest, easiest method of administration is to mix them all together with a couple of tablespoons of plain Greek yoghurt or applesauce. We serve it alongside a meal, and he happily gobbles it up.
What are your feelings about giving supplements to infants, toddlers and/or children? Do you give any supplements to your own children?