HomeHealthBeyond Children’s Multivitamins: 3 Other Supplements to Protect Kids’ Health Children need good food and excellent supplemental nutrition to achieve their full potential. Nature’s Sunshine Products provides high potency supplements that are safe and effective for children. Sunshine Heroes ensure maximum nutrition in a chewable product line formulated specifically for children. Omega-3 with DHA Since 2004, the FDA has allowed qualified health claims for omega-3 fatty acids in food supplements. These health claims are based on the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to promote cardiovascular health. Prior to the FDA approval of these claims, the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) had already been added to infant formulas. Since DHA is poorly synthesized in the body, it must be obtained from the diet or from mother’s milk. Even then it is only found in breast milk when a nursing mother consumes a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There is no current recommended daily intake (RDI) for these fats, so the savvy consumer must find them in the diet or in supplements. So why are EPA and DHA being discussed in children’s health? These essential fatty acids are highly valued for their support of nervous tissues. DHA is the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain and is required for normal growth and development of the nervous system. DHA is also found in the eye and in nerve synapses, which suggests that it may play a role in nerve transmission. In summary, EPA and DHA are beneficial to children as well as adults who want to promote proper nervous system development and function. Nature’s Sunshine Products has valued these essential fatty acids for years knowing that they support both the nervous system and cardiovascular health. Sunshine Heroes Omega-3 with DHA makes ingesting omega-3 fatty acids easy and fun. Each serving of Omega-3 with DHA provides 140 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (100 mg DHA and 20 mg EPA). This product gives children the benefit of these healthy fats in addition to the amounts found naturally in their diet. Probiotic Power Probiotic supplements are commonly known as “friendly flora.” These microbes live naturally in our intestinal tract and perform three main functions. They metabolize foods, aid in the absorption of nutrients and help maintain intestinal flora. This translates to better digestive performance and improved immune and intestinal health. Probiotics have been researched extensively with regard to addressing gastro-intestinal issues. Bifidobacterium infantis (found in Probiotic Power) is the most common bacteria found in breast-fed infants. It is believed that this specific strain of bacteria helps provide immune support to infants as they enter a world surrounded by microbes. Much like DHA (mentioned above), it is another gift from mother to child that can be added to the diet in supplement form. Probiotics should be supplemented regularly, because over time healthy bacteria populations can dwindle. Nature’s Sunshine Probiotic Power provides 11 different strains of bacteria (1 billion organisms per tablet) in an appealing chewable tablet for children. Astute users may note that the tablet is chewable and not enteric coated. While enteric coating helps protect the probiotic bacteria as they pass through the acidic environment of the stomach, it is not required. These bacteria are extremely hearty and will survive the acidity of the stomach and continue on to thrive in the intestines. Probiotics should be stored in a freezer or refrigerator to ensure potency. Shipping probiotics in heat and humidity does not destroy the bacteria. But to maintain a long shelf life they should be refrigerated. Calcium Plus D3 Growing children need calcium to form healthy teeth and bones. Calcium is also required for nerve transmissions, muscle contractions, and hormone secretion. Calcium is readily available in the diet from dairy foods and to a lesser extent, green leafy vegetables. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium in children has slowly increased over the years. This helps demonstrate the importance of calcium in the diet of children. The current RDA for calcium is as follows: Age 1-3 years, 700 mg; 4-8 years, 1,000 mg; 9-18 years, 1,300 mg.(2) The body is limited in the amount of calcium it can absorb during a meal. To insure maximum absorption of calcium, it is best to take supplements periodically throughout the day with meals and with vitamin D. Chewable calcium supplements are not new, they have been on the market for years to address stomach discomfort and bone mineral density. But now calcium supplements have added vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the active form of vitamin D. The body makes vitamin D from cholesterol and requires exposure to sunlight. Sunlight is important in this conversion, which is why children need extra vitamin D3 supplements throughout the winter months when daylight is short and skin exposure is brief.(3) Vitamin D3 promotes the absorption of it from the diet and deposits calcium into the bones. It makes good sense to add vitamin D3 to all calcium supplements. Vitamin D3 supplements have been hot in the supplement market for several years now due to a large body of evidence that suggests higher levels of vitamin D3 offers immune system support not observed with other forms of vitamin D. While larger doses of vitamin D3 may be beneficial, we recommend following the RDA for the specific age group. Sunshine Heroes Calcium Plus D3 contains 300 mg of calcium and 300 IU of vitamin D3 per serving. This is a safe and effective dose of both vitamin D and calcium for children. References: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcidsandHealth/ http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-QuickFacts/ Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91:1255-60.