Kid-Safe Supplements


I am often asked by parents what nutritional supplements they should give to their children to keep them healthy. It has been my experience that as a child reaches school age, parents become increasingly concerned about eating habits and proper nutrition—and with good reason.

Recent studies on the nutritional status of America's children indicate that most children have multiple nutritional deficiencies. One of the ways to compensate for these deficiencies is through supplementation. Nutritional supplementation can help prevent illness and maximize your child's health.

Keep in mind that supplements are designed to complement a healthy diet, not replace it. A nutrition-oriented physician can help design a diet and supplement program that is specific to your child's nutritional needs. But the following are a few general guidelines for supplementation that any parent can put to use:


By the time a child is one year of age, he should be on a multivitamin/mineral formula. This provides a broad spectrum of nutritional support. Look for a children's formula that is:
IIII free of preservatives;
IIII contains no fillers or artificial dyes;
IIII does not contain any added sugar—including sugar substitutes like aspartame and saccharine, which are present in many over-the-counter kids' supplements. Most quality health food stores

carry quality vitamins specifically formulated for kids that are sweetened with fruit juice. You can generally choose between chewable or liquid forms.

Building Blocks for Growth

Most children benefit from extra calcium and magnesium, two minerals that are important for proper bone growth and nervous system development. Heavy consumption of soda—which contains phosphorus— can cause children to be deficient in calcium and magnesium because the body will absorb phosphorus first.

Daily Dosage:IIII 500 mg of each mineral daily, for children who are consuming dairy products on a daily basis.

IIII 500 - 1000 mg daily for children who are not consuming dairy products due to milk or dairy sensitivities.

Good Food Sources:
In addition to supplementation in pill form, the following foods should be added to your child's daily diet to ensure that he isgetting proper amounts of calcium and magnesium:

IIII cheese
IIII nuts (almonds, brazil, pecans, peanuts)
IIII brewer's yeast
IIII cooked, dry beans
IIII wheat germ


Vitamin C is important in protecting your child against illness. Unfortunately, most kids tend to reach for sugary snacks instead of wholesome fruit snacks, so it is important to provide additional vitamin C supplementation as part of your child's daily vitamin regime.

Daily Dosage:IIII 250 mg of vitamin C daily is a good dose for maintaining health. For kids that are sensitive to the acid in citrus fruit, look for ester C blends. This is a non-acidic type of vitamin C that is easier to digest and absorb.

Good Food Sources:
In addition to daily supplementation, try working the following foods into your child's diet:

IIII calcium-fortified orange juice
IIII strawberries
IIII melons
IIII broccoli


What Are Essential Fatty Acids?


Approximately 80 percent of all Americans consume a diet that is deficient in essential fatty acids (EFAs), which can be found in cold water fish like salmon or seeds like flax or pumpkin. There are two groups of EFAs: omega 6 (found in seed oils like hemp, flax, sunflower and pumpkin) and omega 3 (found in seeds and cold water fish like mackerel, tuna and salmon).

In children, essential fatty acids are crucial for proper growth and development. Their benefits are listed below.

Omega 3 EFAs:IIII Are important for brain function. Deficiencies can lead to impaired vision, poor memory and learning difficulties. 

IIII Aid in the production of hormones that influence growth.
IIII Help to regulate pain associated with conditions like arthritis and inflamation (especially the type associated with chronic skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis).
IIII Help to optimize the immune system.
IIII Regulate the metabolism.
IIII Can help reduce symptoms often associated with PMS and menstruation in teenage girls.

Omega 6 EFAs 

IIII Help to regulate cholesterol production.
IIII Keep the blood thin and assist in the processing of insulin.

Considering the amount of processed sugars and saturated fats many children consume, supplementing their daily vitamin regimen with omega 6 EFAs may be beneficial to them in their later years by lowering their risk for developing heart disease or stroke.

If you have a child who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), see my article on food allergies and ADHD where I touch upon the importance of essential fatty acids—especially DHA—in improving memory and the ability to concentrate in children who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Good Food Sources:
Our bodies cannot make essential fatty acids, so we must get them from dietary sources like those listed below:

IIII cold water fish (salmon, tuna, mackrel, halibut)

IIII seeds (sunflower, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame)

Daily Dosage:
If you know your child isn't getting enough Omega 6 EFAs in his diet, try crushing a tablespoon of seeds (I use a coffee or spice grinder) and adding them to his breakfast shake. Or sprinkle them over veggies or cereal. Seeds can often be found in the bulk food sections of most health food stores.

These oils are also available at most health food stores. Check the refrigerated section for oils like flaxseed and borage, which need refrigeration to prevent them from becoming rancid. If you decide to give your child capsules, try to look for blends that contain both Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, since we need both in proper balance for optimal health.

March 2000

Angela Stengler is a licensed naturopathic physician based in San Diego, California. Women's and children's health are the focus of the practice run by her and her husband, Dr. Mark Stengler. For  more information, check her Website, The Natural Physician.

Veggies in a Pill?


If your child does not or will not eat fruits or vegetables, a greens supplement can provide them with some of the nutrients and phytochemicals that they are missing.

Greens supplements are composed of super green foods, such as wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, chlorella, spirulina and other valuable plant extracts. You can find them in powder or capsule form and can mix them with apple juice or any favorite drink. This type of supplementation is only recommended for children over two years of age.

Daily Dosage:

The dosage will depend on the type of green supplement you purchase. There are drink powders like Kyo-Green or capsules like Maxi Green Concentrate Vegicaps.

The Smart Start

Breakfast provides food for the brain after a night of sleep. The nutrients consumed at breakfast give your child the energy he will need to concentrate while in school, which in turn will enable him retain what he is being taught. Many kids skip breakfast in the morning because they are either in a hurry or simply are not hungry. This is not a good thing, and I often suggest that parents of children who won't or don't eat breakfast whip up a protein shake. Here's one that's simple to make and can provide the kick-start your child needs to get up and running each morning. Add the following ingredients to your blender:

IIII 8 to 12 oz. of milk (rice, soy, cow or goat—whatever your preference is) as a base

IIII Protein powder
(There are many kinds available at the health food store—soy, whey, vegetable, egg to name a few. Measure according to the directions on the label—some powders call for one scoop, some call for two)

IIII One teaspoon of ground flax seeds or flaxseed oil

IIII An enriching greens product (like Kyo-Green)—add according to directions on the product label

IIII Fruit(s) of choice (favorites tend to be blueberries—in season—and bananas)

Mix it all up and serve. Not only is it good and nutritious for your child, but it's good for you too, so drink up!



Hopkins: Alcohol In Breast Milk

BALTIMORE (Johns Hopkins) - Breast-feeding mothers need to be careful about the amount of alcohol they drink. A new study indicates that passing on even very small amounts of alcohol through their breast milk can change their baby's sleep patterns.

Researchers in Philadelphia found that babies exposed to alcohol slept less and for shorter periods, even though in some cases they fell asleep faster. Significantly, their time in so-called active sleep was shorter, too. Active sleep is marked by increased brain activity, and getting less of it is not necessarily a good thing, says Judith Vogelhut, nurse coordinator of the Johns Hopkins breast-feeding program.

"The feeling is that disrupting a baby's active sleep chronically may affect their psychomotor development at one year. What's not been looked at, I don't think, is what the ramifications of that are later on in life," says Vogelhut.

The key is moderation. Vogelhut says nursing mothers can have a drink once or twice a week without affecting their babies ... but they should wait at least four hours between drinking and nursing. 

Source: The Johns Hopkins University, 

              January 13, 2000




Hopkins: Babies In Bed 



BALTIMORE (Johns Hopkins) - Should babies share a bed with their parents? The government says no, but pediatric experts disagree and tell parents not to lose sleep over it.

In September the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a report that detailed a number of infant deaths. Accidents, it said, caused by infants sleeping with Mom and Dad. The report argued that sleeping parents may smother their baby, or not be awake to respond if the child gets somehow trapped.

Johns Hopkins family health scientist Dr. Janet DiPietro calls the study and its conclusions deeply flawed and lacking in good science. In fact, she says, sharing a bed may be good for newborns.

"The recent evidence that when babies share beds with their parents, that their mothers in particular helps the babies regulate their own breathing, their own temperature, and so on .. that, in fact, may be protective against sudden infant death," says Dr. DiPietro.

Dr. DiPietro urges precautions like avoiding too many heavy blankets and covers, but says it's safe to have a baby on board in bed.

Source: 1999 The Johns Hopkins University, 

              December 13, 1999

Prevention Science

BALTIMORE (Johns Hopkins) - The things a child learns in elementary school can have a profound impact on the kind of adult he or she becomes. And these lessons may not come from a book or teacher at all.

Evidence suggests that behavioral patterns apparent even in the first grade may be a window into the future, predictors of how the child will be in 10 or 15 years. Unusual aggression in early childhood, for example, has been linked to an increased risk for smoking later on. Kids who lag behind in reading are more prone to depression when they're older. Researchers think that schools can identify these problems at the start and take steps to nip them in the bud. It's called prevention science

"We're both impressed with the evolving science, and we're also impressed with the possibilities of a very much more optimistic outcome for children coming into school in regard to later violence and drug abuse, depression," says Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Sheppard Kellam, a leader in the field

The key, says Dr. Kellam, is designing classroom interventions that defuse these problems early and head off potential disorders later in life.

Source: Johns Hopkins University
October 27, 1999

Nationwide Education Campaign on the Safe Use of Medicine

In October, millions of women will have access to specialized information about the proper use of medications in a national public awareness campaign being jointly conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. An unprecedented partnership of more than 80 non-profit and corporate supporters as well as 20,000 chain drug pharmacies are working together to provide women with critical information about how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of taking both over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Three out of four doctor visits in the United States result in physicians issuing a prescription, and in 1999 alone, an estimated 3 billion prescriptions will be dispensed to patients. And yet in hundreds of cases consumers misread or don't read the label; combine different prescriptions and/or over-the-counter drugs without knowing the possible side effects; take too little or too much of a medication; or don't finish taking the prescribed amount.

The safe use of medicines is particularly important for women since they use medications more frequently than men and are more likely to supervise medication use by family members, including children and elderly parents.

"Women are the most active healthcare decision makers, and that's why the FDA Office of Women's Health is encouraging women to be particularly vigilant when taking or giving medications to their families, children and themselves," said Jane E. Henney, MD, Commissioner for Food and Drugs.

Studies show that 30% to 50% of Americans do not take their medication as directed and as a result, preventable medicine- related illnesses cost $76.6 billion dollars each year in doctor visits, unnecessary prescriptions, lost productivity and increased hospital and nursing home admissions. With the Take Time To Care program, businesses, health service groups, professional associations, other federal agencies, and religious and ethnic groups have committed to providing women with the information they need to keep themselves and their families healthy. The goal of the campaign is to distribute five million "My Medicines" brochures. The brochure has four key messages: Read the label; Avoid Problems; Ask Questions; and Keep a Record.

In addition to pharmacy efforts, activities during the month of October include:

Providing one million mail order subscribers with the "My Medicines" brochures.

Conducting a national media outreach campaign to raise awareness of this important issue.

Distributing materials at conferences, universities and religious facilities.

Reaching low-income women through community health centers.

Linking with nursing outreach efforts to educate groups with special needs, including non-English speaking populations and those with mental illness.

Distributing materials through employee assistance programs.

Establishing a national toll free number, 1-877-RX WOMEN, for questions regarding medicines on October 26th.

Informing the public through a network of linked web sites. The brochure will be available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Russian, Polish and a number of Asian languages. To receive a free copy of the "My Medicines" brochure (in English and Spanish) call toll free 1-888-8-PUEBLO or log onto the Office of Women's Health web site at

The FDA acknowledges all of the Take Time To Care campaign's participating organizations and pharmacies.

The Office of Women's Health was created by the Food and Drug Administration in 1994. Its establishment began a new chapter in the agency's commitment to women's health issues. The FDA has jurisdiction over the drugs, medical devices, vaccines, blood and tissue products, foods and cosmetics on which every American woman and her family depend -- about 25% of every consumer dollar.

October 1, 1999

Hopkins: Pollutants Found In House Dust Increase Pesticide's Toxicity

BALTIMORE (Johns Hopkins) - Four pollutants found in house dust add to the ability of a common household insecticide to inhibit an enzyme important in neurologic function in humans. Building on substantial evidence that the insecticide chlorpyrifos inhibits cholinesterase, a biochemical critical for nerve cell transmission, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that pollutants in house dust increase this adverse effect in studies with purified enzyme. [Full report]

Study finds 64 deaths each year from suffocation and strangulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning parents and caregivers about the dangers of placing babies to sleep in adult beds. A CPSC study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that placing babies to sleep in adult beds puts them at risk of suffocation or strangulation. This is a danger of which many parents and caregivers are unaware. The study revealed an average 64 deaths per year to babies under the age of 2 years placed to sleep in adult beds, including waterbeds and daybeds.

A review of incident data from January 1990 to December 1997 linked adult beds to at least 515 baby deaths. Analysis of the deaths revealed four major hazard patterns:

  • Suffocation associated with the co-sleeping of adult and baby.

  • Suffocation where an infant becomes entrapped or wedged between the mattress and another object.

  • Suffocation due to airway obstruction when the baby is face down on a waterbed mattress.

  • Strangulation in rails or openings on beds that allow a baby's body to pass through while entrapping the head.

CPSC's study is the first to quantify the number of fatalities resulting from the practice of co-sleeping with babies. Of the 515 deaths, 121 were reported to be due to a parent, caregiver or sibling rolling on top of or against the baby while sleeping. More than three-quarters of these deaths occurred to infants younger than 3 months. The other 394 deaths resulted from suffocation or from strangulation caused by entrapment of the child's head in various structures of the bed. Entrapments occurred between the mattress and the wall, bed frame, headboard, footboard, bed railings or adjacent furniture.

One of the most tragic aspects of these deaths is that they are largely preventable. In many cases, the adult placing the baby in the adult bed was unaware of or underestimated the danger posed. The practice of co-sleeping can result in the adult rolling on top of or next to the baby smothering him or her. Mothers who breastfeed should be alerted to this hazard and should be encouraged to return the baby to the crib after breast-feeding.

"Don't sleep with your baby or put the baby down to sleep in an adult bed," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "The only safe place for babies is in a crib that meets current safety standards and has a firm, tight-fitting mattress. Place babies to sleep on their backs and remove all soft bedding and pillow-like items from the crib."

Of the 394 entrapment deaths, 296 were on adult beds, 79 were on waterbeds and 10 were on daybeds. Bed rails, which are portable railings that can be installed on toddler and adult beds to keep toddlers from falling out of beds, accounted for nine baby deaths. CPSC is working with the bed rail industry on the design of these products to reduce the hazard. The following chart provides more details on the fatality scenarios from entrapment and co-sleeping.

For 1998 and 1999, the Commission is aware of at least 76 additional deaths, 35 due to suffocation associated with co-sleeping and 41 due to entrapments. The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a member of the Journal of the American Medical Association family of journals, study "Adult Beds Are Unsafe Places for Children to Sleep," primarily written by CPSC's Suad Nakamura, Ph.D., was co-authored by Marilyn Wind, Ph.D., (CPSC) and Mary Ann Danello, Ph.D., (CPSC). Nakamura gave details about the findings at an AMA briefing in New York today.

Contact: Ken Giles
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1184
Release # 99-175

CPSC Hotline: 1-800-638-CPSC(2772)
CPSC's Web Site:

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), PRESS RELEASE
September 29, 1999