Back to school with what? The famous (at least in my mind) 4-legged stool! This is what I think of as the foundational supplements to improve immunity, focus, and energy and where most of my patients were all started on their path to health. This really applies to adults as well, but since it’s that season, let’s look at what works best for our kids as they go back to school.
These 5 supplements are the foundation to better health as well as a diet free from processed foods and food dyes. Start here and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.
So, for any good stool we need a seat to sit on, and that seat is a well-rounded multivitamin that tastes good, whether liquid or chewable tablet, and can cover a range of deficiencies that our modern diet may create. There are many choices here, and I want one that has activated B-vitamins, Zinc, and a decent portion of Vitamin D (may need to add more of this later). One of my favorites is Ultra Preventive Kids, which tastes good and fills all the requirements of a multi. Junior Nutrients is another choice if capsules are preferred over chewable. This is the foundational step and then we can add other pieces that a multi alone is not going to address.
When it comes to a supplement, most of us, and especially kids with developing brains need is specific Omega 3’s, EPA/DHA. Unless your child is eating wild-caught salmon 2-3x per week, this is an issue that I see regularly. Many people due to genetics cannot make EPA/DHA from flax, walnut and other plant based omega 3’s. Solution: a great tasting EPA/DHA liquid, DE Fish Oil. This is a superior product that will fill this need that has a mild lemon flavor. If liquid is a no go, then ProOmega Junior is small capsules that will meet the non-liquid requirement. Brain development is dependent on DHA and this is essential during pregnancy through adulthood to reach optimal brain development.
Another leg to the stool is enough Vitamin D3w/K2. Liquid form is the best bet and can be added to the fish oil and is tasteless. 1000 IU is in one drop and 1-2 drops are all that is usually needed. The multi has the minimum requirement, but in my experience, this dose does not get children where they need to be. At 1000 IU a day, it is very unlikely to cause excessive blood levels and will make a huge difference in everything from tooth and bone development to mood and immune up-regulation. The vitamin K2 is helpful too as it is essential in building really strong bones.
The next leg of the stool is magnesium. No multivitamin I have found gives enough of this essential mineral and over the last several years, a liquid, Pure’s Magnesium Glycinate is on the market and it tastes great. Another option is a good powdered magnesium such as Power Mag Powder. It helps with focus, mood and sleep. We get very little of it in our diet and most of us are deficient. If your child is suffering from constipation, this is also a miracle cure for that with the last leg of the stool mentioned below. If bowel movements get a little loose, then it is time to back it down some, but other than that, it is without serious side effects unless there is chronic kidney failure, and in that case, please talk to your provider before starting.
The final leg of the stool is PRObiotic or a PREbiotic. I love well-researched probiotics. The problem is most probiotic formulas over the counter have strains that are not researched. There are many available in the professional labels though that have a ton of research. Two of my favorites are Probiotic 123 (designed more for GI health and regularity) and Genestra’s HMF Fit for School (very supportive of respiratory health). Specific strains have different functions on the GI tract from mood to immune, so probiotics should be picked for desired effect. If you’re looking for a general increase in the good bacteria of the gut, then a prebiotic powder like Poly-Prebiotic Fiber is a great choice. PREbiotics are food for our bacteria and creates long term effects whereas PRObiotics have to be taken daily to get their benefit. Through my research, I am leaning more toward PREbiotics in helping the gut be healthy in the long term.
I love that these kid-friendly nutrients don’t have to be swallowed in a capsule and have the ability to help our kids fight off infection, focus better in school and improve mood.
Have a wonderful school year!
– From Nathan Morris MD and the team at Good Medicine