What are some of the common nutrients found in supplements? MH finds out.
WORDS REBECCA WONG
When it comes to individual supplements (as opposed to multivitamins), do check with your paediatrician before administering them to your little ones. Take particular care if your child is consuming a certain medication or has an existing medical issue, cautions Deborah Mitchell in The Family Guide to Vitamins, Herbs, and Supplements.
The following essential nutrients are commonly found in individual supplements:
Omega-3 fatty acids: This nutrient is usually supplied by fish oil supplements and is required for healthy development of the heart, nervous system and brain. “Children who consume nuts and fish regularly should get this, and those who do not can benefit from fish oil,” advises Mitchell. Children will have regular amounts of Omega-3 in their diet if they consume fatty fish several times a week, support Dr Ari Brown and Denise Fields in Toddler 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Toddler.
Calcium: One of the more popular supplements bought for children, calcium should definitely be included in your child’s daily diet for strong bone growth. In Bone Health in Children, authors Steven A. Abrams and Keli M. Hawthorne recommend choosing foods with a high calcium content like vegetables and dairy products. Orange juice or cereals that are calcium-fortified are also recommended. “Most children who receive calcium supplements will usually receive a small pill of no more than 500 mg, or a once-a-day multivitamin (containing 200-250 mg),” they add.
It’s also best to serve the supplements with a meal such
as breakfast, so you don’t forget.
Vitamin D: This nutrient goes hand in hand with calcium requirements, given its role in aiding the absorption of calcium for bone-building. 400 International units (IU) of Vitamin D are required for kids older than six months, says Mitchell. If your kid spends enough time out and about in the sun, a Vitamin D supplement is likely unnecessary.
Iron: Found in most breakfast cereals and bread fortified with iron. The AAP recommends toddlers receive a minimum of 15 mg of iron in their meals per day. A deficiency of iron can lead to anaemia (which limits the ability of the blood to carry oxygen) and negatively affect brain function. Do check with your physician before purchasing iron supplements, as an excess of iron when there is no deficiency can harm your child, reminds Mitchell.
Fluoride: An essential mineral that prevents tooth decay. “If your family consumes water containing adequate amounts of fluoride (0.7ppm-1.2ppm), a fluoride supplement is likely not required,” explain Dr Brown and Fields.
Given that Singapore’s water is both fluoridated and portable (with a current concentration level of
O.6mg per litre in our tap water according to the Ministry of Health), kids here won’t usually
need fluoride supplements. Too much fluoride also discolours teeth and is potentially toxic.
Vitamin C: Vitamins and Supplements Guide author, Patrick Haug recommends a healthy dose of Vitamin C for the growth of healthy bones, teeth, and joint tissue. A daily glass of orange juice can provide kids with Vitamin C, but parents may want to supplement this with Vitamin C tablets when cold and flu season hits, says Haug.
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