Multivitamins: Friend or Foe
Belinda @ Kids Matter
Just when you thought you could not fit another thing on life’s plate… PLOP! Are you getting the recommended daily dose of all the needed vitamins and minerals? Are you eating a healthy well-balanced diet? Have you been caught coming out of McDonald’s drive-thru several times this week? Do you choose not to worry about recommended daily dosage because you supplement with a daily multivitamin? Which is worse… not enough or too much?Before you make the decision to change your diet, or supplement it with a vitamin, talk to your doctor. Do some research regarding the levels you need for your specific gender and age. Go to WebMD for a listing of the daily required levels. You can also visit WebMD to determine what vitamins and minerals are in the food you consume. Research the products you put into your body at Consumer Search. Read those all-important food labels, which we often take for granted. Be mindful that the added colorings and sugars, often found in multivitamins, could do more harm than good.
Nothing can replace a healthy well-balanced diet. Not only is food better for you than a pill, but the body can also break down the food much better and easier than swallowing a pill. Per Dr. Scott Olson, “Typically, many one-a-day supplements are packed tightly in a capsule form for easy swallowing. Many times these compressed pills are too hard to actually digest in your stomach. X-ray technicians often see these pills far from the stomach, never having dissolved. A pill that is not digested is worthless and simply increases the nutrient content of your toilet water.”Now, that doesn’t mean that you should not take multivitamins. It simply means that you need to understand what vitamins and minerals you are not receiving from the food you eat. Once that is determined, you will then need to figure out what supplements you need, and in what amount. Too much of a supplement can be just as dangerous as not enough. Maybe you don’t need every vitamin or mineral found in a multivitamin. You may just need a calcium supplement. Discuss your eating habits and any deficiencies you think you may have with your family doctor.
What about our children? Should we be giving them those cute little gummy bear vitamins? Just like an adult, the major source of vitamins and minerals should come from the food they eat. Baylor College of Medicine published an index chart, which you can use, to calculate your child’s calorie intake and determine the levels of vitamins and minerals that may be lacking. The USDA created a program called ChooseMyPlate.gov to help you plan and prepare a healthy well-balanced meal for your child. If you determine that your child is lacking in nutrients and requires a supplement discuss your concerns with your family physician.Remember to buy age appropriate vitamins. Children’s vitamins come in liquid and the gummy version. Which would be more appropriate for your child? Most importantly, vitamins look like candy to a child. Explain to your child it is NOT candy, keep them stored out of the reach of a child, and explain they can only take this vitamin when given by an adult. If a child takes more than the prescribed daily allowance you may need to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222 to be automatically redirected to your local poison control center. If the child is experiencing difficulty breathing, severe throat pain, burns on the lips or mouth, convulsions, unconsciousness, or extreme sleepiness call 911 for emergency services.
Your health, and your child’s health, should be a priority and you are the master of your body and the caretaker of your child’s. Take control and discuss any change in diet and the need for supplemental vitamins and minerals with your family physician. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”