Back to school with what? The famous (at least in my mind) 4-legged stool! These are 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 along with a diet free from processed foods and food dyes. Start here and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.
So, the seat of the stool 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. 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 they prefer capsules over chewable. This is the foundational step and then we can add other pieces that a multi alone will not address.
Kids with developing brains need 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 because of 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 a liquid is a no-go, then ProOmega Junior are small capsules that will meet the non-liquid requirement. Brain development depends on DHA and this is essential from pregnancy through adulthood to reach optimal brain development.
Another leg to the stool is Vitamin D3w/K2. This liquid form of D3 and K2 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, which may 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 tremendous difference in everything from tooth and bone development to mood and immune up-regulation. Vitamin K2 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 powdered magnesium such as Power Mag Powder. It helps with focus, mood, and sleep. We get very little magnesium in our diet and most of us are deficient. If your child is suffering from constipation, this is also a miracle cure for that along with the last leg of the stool mentioned below. If bowel movements get a little loose, then back the dose 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 last leg of the stool is a PRObiotic or a PREbiotic. I love well-researched probiotics. The problem is most PRObiotic formulas over the counter have strains that are not researched. However, there are many available in the professional labels 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 boosting, so we should pick PRObiotics according to the 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 brilliant choice. PREbiotics are food for our bacteria and create long-term effects whereas PRObiotics have to be taken daily to get their benefit. Through my research, I am leaning more toward PREbiotics for helping the gut stay healthy.
I love that these kid-friendly nutrients don’t have to be swallowed in a capsule form, and can help our kids fight off infection, focus better in school and improve mood.
Have a wonderful school year!
Nathan Morris MD and the team at Good Medicine