Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional of any sort. I am merely a mother who was worried about both of my sons' development and spent hours researching supplements, taking my sons to multiple specialists for blood testing and supplementation recommendations, and doing more research. What I write about here are supplements that have helped my boys and have even helped me. Please research these supplements on your own, and discuss with your child's doctor before trying them.
One helpful resource I found was Kelly Dorfman's book Cure Your Child with Food: The Hidden Connection Between Nutrition and Childhood Ailments. Such a wealth of information about nutrition for picky eaters and supplements that can help your child.
Disclosure: some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!
Children taking omega-3s have been reported to have an increase in speech (for children with speech delays), focus, attention, and memory. Why?
"The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. We've learned in recent years that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain's integrity and ability to perform. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required for maintenance of optimal health but they can not synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. Clinical observation studies has related imbalance dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases. Most of the brain growth is completed by 5-6 years of age. The EFAs, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids, are important for brain development during both the fetal and postnatal period." (Essential Fatty Acids and Human Brain)
That means that if your child is not consuming foods with Omega-3 (such as fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, especially flaxseed) their brains may be starving for this nutrient. Symptoms of Omega-3 deficiency include hyperactivity, speech delays, cognitive delays, extreme thirst, fatigue, constipation, poor concentration, difficulties with working memory, eczema or other skin rashes, excessive moods swings, anxiety, and difficulty falling asleep.
If you would like to supplement your child's diet with Omega-3s, the best route is to give them fish oil, (if your child does not have an allergy to fish). For my children, I buy the Nordic Naturals Pro-EFA and mix it in with their juice or yogurt and they don't even notice it is there.
There are also gummies and vitamins, though those have a much smaller concentration of Omega-3s. There are also capsules for children able to swallow them.
"The following chart from Health Canada contains guidelines on how much fish oil your child needs daily. Depending on your child's health, your primary healthcare practitioner may suggest more. 0 to 12 months 500 mg 1 year 600 mg 2 to 3 years 700 mg 4 to 6 years 1,000 mg 7 to 9 years 1,200 mg for boys/ 1,000 mg for girls 10 to 12 years 1,400 mg for boys/ 1,200 mg for girls 13 to 15 years 1,500 mg for boys/ 1,200 mg for girls" (Omega-3s and Children)
The most common side effects from fish oil are diarrhea and hyperactivity. If your child experiences diarrhea, it simply means you have given them too much for their body to process and so you'll need to give them a smaller dose.
According to Kelly Dorfman in her book Cure Your Child with Food, if your child becomes hyper on the fish oil, it means their body is unable to process the fish oil at all. In this case, your child would benefit from 500 mg of taurine a day, and you should see the hyperactivity decrease as their body is now able to process the omegas with the help of the taurine.
Our personal experience with Omega 3s: My older son has a neurological speech disorder called apraxia. After doing a lot of research on fish oil, I decided to have my son try it. At the time he was just saying a few sounds. Within a week of using the fish oil, he was saying a few words and had much better focus and attention, especially at speech therapy. Within a month he was saying two word phrases! I was absolutely amazed. We went on a family vacation and I forgot to bring the fish oil with us. Within a few days of not having the fish oil, his speech decreased, and when we returned and he started the fish oils again, he again had a speech surge with tons of new words and phrases added to his vocabulary. Sure, we were still doing speech therapy, but I really do believe the omega 3s were a huge factor in his incredible speech progress that continues to this day.
Hippocrates said about 2,000 years ago "All disease begins in the gut." Though this is not entirely true, he was definitely onto something. The entire gut is lined with bacteria and yeast which helps to digest food and build up the immune system. There is a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria, and antibiotics and high doses of sugar can kill off the good bacteria and help the bad bacteria take over the stomach and intestinal lining. This will lead to digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, reflux, and in some cases the development of food allergies. It can lead to a weakened immune system, in which case your child will get frequent colds and other illnesses. It can also lead to the creation of holes in the intestinal lining, called "leaky gut" in which food particles and other waste material leak into the body and lead to neurological issues, such as anxiety and brain fog, or leak out of the skin, causing eczema or other rashes or acne, or affect the respiratory system, causing asthma or frequent coughs and croup.
For this reason, it is recommended that everyone take a daily probiotic (good bacteria). Yes, there are probiotics in yogurt, but not enough to help the body replenish its supply of good bacteria. Try to find a probiotic that has several strains of bacteria and at least 1 billion units of bacteria.
I use Springboard Floraboost Daily Probiotic for my kids and put the powder in their juice with dinner. They don't even know it is there. ;)
Start slow with a probiotic dose and slowly increase over time. If your child has a high amount of yeast, they can experience die-off, where a large amount of yeast dies at the same time and causes diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. By starting slow, you kill off the extra yeast and bad bacteria slowly over time instead of all at once.
Magnesium is a mineral necessary for over 300 processes in the body, and yet over half of the population is deficient in magnesium.
"If your child experiences impaired communication, social difficulties, restlessness, tantrums, can't keep still, constant body rocking, grinding teeth, hiccuping, noise sensitivity, poor attention span, poor concentration, irritability, aggressiveness, ready to explode and easily stressed... you may want to consider feeding him more magnesium rich foods or have him take a magnesium supplement, as these are some symptoms of magnesium deficiency. The University of Maryland Medical Center points out – "Some experts believe that children with ADHD may be showing the effects of mild magnesium deficiency. In one preliminary study of 75 magnesium-deficient children with ADHD, those who received magnesium supplements showed an improvement in behavior compared to those who did not receive the supplements."
ResearchAutism.net sites plenty of research claiming that people with Autism benefit from high doses of magnesium and B6. One claim says –
"There are over 20 studies of vitamin B6 with Magnesium for autism, including 12 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, making it one of most studied treatments for autism. Almost all of these studies found that 45-50% of children and adults with autism benefited from high-dose supplementation of vitamin B6 with magnesium." (Does Magnesium Help ADHD and Autism Symptoms?)
The best way to get magnesium absorbed into your body is topically-through the skin. There are magnesium oils, lotions, and sprays that can be rubbed onto the skin. Personally I love using Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion or Magnesium Oil Spray.
Also, Epsom salt contains magnesium, and you can add one cup of Epsom salt to your child's bath (just once a week) and their body will absorb the magnesium from the Epsom salt through the skin. I also enjoy an Epsom salt bath once a week--it has helped tremendously with my anxiety, sleep, and with clearing my brain fog.
And last, but not least of all,
Let's face it, the processed foods we eat are deficient in the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. And even if our children are not picky eaters and eat a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and meats they may still be deficient in several vitamins and minerals. For this reason it is very important to give our children a multi-vitamin that includes the necessary nutrients they need and in a form they can easily digest. For example,
"There are two forms of vitamin B12 that you're likely to come across – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. These two different B12 forms are very similar. The only chemical difference between them comes down to one small part of the molecule, where the names give it away: where methylcobalamin has a methyl group (just carbon and hydrogen), cyanocobalamin has a cyanide group. And obviously cyanide isn't something you normally expect to find lurking in your multivitamin. In fact, cyanocobalamin isn't something nature ever intended your body to deal with – it exists only as a chemical synthesized in laboratories. It doesn't occur naturally in any living organism." (Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin)
It is important to give every member of our family, but especially our children, a multivitamin that our bodies can easily process and that will benefit our health. Most over the counter multivitamins will have the synthetic versions of vitamins and minerals, such as synthetic B12, B9 and vitamin E that require our bodies to take multiple steps to break down and use. Some of us aren't able to break down these vitamins at all! For my children, I used to give them a powdered multivitamin called VitaSpectrum Powder Berry-Pomegranate Flavor, but now I give them these SmartyPants Kids Complete Gummy Vitamins which includes all their necessary vitamins and minerals in easy to digest forms, as well as some Omega-3s. My kiddos love them, and to be honest, I enjoy them too! ;)
I hope this helps! Remember to do your research, talk to your child's doctor, and start slow on dosages and slowly increase over time to see how your child does with each supplement, I recommend you introduce only one at a time, so that you know which supplements may be causing any side effects, or if it is effective for your child or not.
If you have any questions feel free to share them in the comment section!
Here's to embracing health, wellness, and life! Jenn