Should You Supplement? A Guide to Healthy Approaches

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October 4, 2012 by thehealthyheartcenter

A well balanced diet filled with whole grains, protein, dairy, fruits, and vegetables is able to offer all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients the body needs… except for when you have a picky eater on your hands. Dietary supplements can be a useful alternative to ensure your child is receiving everything they need to grow healthy and strong; however, there is little data available on their safety and effectiveness in children.


The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) has provided such information on the use of supplemental approaches after researching more than 9,000 children younger than 18, concluding nearly 12% had used a form of complementary health. Because it is so common, and such an easy option, it’s important to stay informed about the safest way to supplement.


If you are considering using dietary supplements here are 5 things you should know:

1. Many complementary health products, including herbs and other dietary supplements, are not tested for safety or effectiveness in children, and children may react differently than adults to these approaches.

2. Although many dietary supplements come from natural sources, “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.” Dietary Supplements can have side effects, and these may be different in children than in adults.

3. Federal regulations for dietary supplements are less strict than those for prescription and over the counter drugs. Some dietary supplements may be of poor quality or contain contaminants, including drugs, chemicals, or metals.

4. NCCAM urges parents to follow the CDC’s vaccination reccomendations in order to safeguard their children against vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines prevent infectious diseases in people who receive them and protect those who come in contact with unvaccinated, infected individuals. Vaccinating children against diseases helps protect our community’s and our children’s health.

5. Ask your child’s health care provider about the effectiveness and possible risks of complementary health approaches you are considering or may already be using for your child.


Although dietary supplements are substitutes for nutritious foods, it is always best to get nutrients from the food sources themselves. Even if your child is a picky eater, you should still encourage him or her to try new foods that will offer them the nutritional benefits. Supplementation should not be your first choice, but is undoubtedly a great alternative to keeping your child healthy.




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