We’ve teamed up with Higher Nature nutritionist, Jacqueline Newson to bring you some insider nutritionist tips for raising healthy and happy kids.
1 Constant Runny Noses
What parent doesn’t have to deal with children who have a constant flow of seasonal bugs? It helps to take a multi-pronged approach to ensure they build a strong immune system. Beta-glucans extracted from oyster mushrooms have been found to support the immune system and, an old favourite, black elderberry, has also been used traditionally alongside vitamin C for its anti-viral properties. Also, don’t forget to include manuka honey, which is renowned for its wonderful anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects.
Top tip: Probiotics also provide an army of healthy bacteria that are essential for supporting the immune system. Research shows that a daily probiotic could help to reduce the incidence of colds and flu-like symptoms in children by 50% or more; a percentage not to be sniffed at!
2 Picky Eating
Children can be a nightmare when it comes to trying new foods and getting a good balance of nutrients, particularly their ‘5-a day’. Encouraging them to experiment in a fun way, by starting the day with a healthy breakfast will go some way to ensuring they are getting the nutrients they need.
Top tip: You could try to sneak some fruit and vegetable powders into their meals or let them create their meals or let them create their own colourful creations for some extra goodness without the fuss!
3 Growing pains
Children require more nutrients to support their growth, and ensuring that enough are provided through the diet can be quite tricky.
Top tip: Always ensure you choose a complex that has been formulated by experts and offers key developmental nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Sudden spurts of growth can cause pain and discomfort for some kids though, but the amino acid, theanine, found in green tea may be helpful and will aid relaxation.
4 Trouble Sleeping
Getting our kids to sleep well means we get eight hours too and everyone’s rested, happy and ready to seize the day!
Top tip: If your child has trouble getting off at night, try a mix of calcium, magnesium and vitamin C in a hot drink before bedtime, to help them unwind and promote restful sleep.
5 Lack of Concentration
When exam time comes around, everyone is fraught, especially children and teenagers. There are some key nutrients that are vital for supporting the brain’s neurotransmitters to ensure clarity and concentration. Children could be hitting the junk food hard while studying, which won’t provide these essential nutrients. Fortunately there are some great formulations that can provide these in a complex.
Top tip: Choose a supplement that includes vitamin B5, theanine, acetyll-carnitine, vitamin B3, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and DMAE. This combination gives them everything they need to keep them on the ball! Additionally, get them to sprinkle some lecithin granules on their morning cereal.
6 Too Much Time on the Computer
Nowadays with the onset erratic weather and a lack of sunshine, we are all concerned about how this impacts on our children’s immune health. The minute the sun comes out, encourage them to abandon their computers and go outside to play. Lots of vitamin D is essential for strengthening the immune system. It’s difficult to get our vitamin D anywhere other than from natural sunlight, so if you can’t persuade them to get outside it might be worth supplementing with the ‘sunshine’ vitamin. If you do see the sun, ten minutes without sun cream is all they need each day.
Top tip: If they’re fussy about tablets, then a Vitamin D spray is a fun way to top up for peace of mind!
7 Upset Tummy
Sometimes children get tummy problems for no rhyme or reason. It’s always good to keep something handy in the fridge that tastes good and can get things back to normal without too much fuss. Aloe vera is a great digestive support, and if you choose one which contains up to 200 active ingredients it may help maintain regular bowel movements, promote digestive juices and soothe and heal the digestive tract. It also promotes the growth of friendly bacteria and is thought to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so a good all rounder!
Top tip: If the natural taste is too bitter for your child, look out for the tasty flavoured juices on offer.
8 Ugly Warts
There is nothing more likely to make a child feel embarrassed and self-conscious than hands covered in warts.
Top tip: A good anti-viral preparation containing grapefruit seed extract diluted and applied topically is one way of getting rid of these nasties.
9 More Essentials Needed
We are generally deficient in omega 3 essential fatty acids in the Western World, partly due to the fact that some of the best sources are found in oily fish or nuts and seeds, which many kids do not eat. Omega 3s are particularly important for the developing and growing brain and a deficiency can sometimes lead to poor concentration, mood swings and behavioural problems – all best avoided if possible!
Top tip: Try to include salmon, mackerel or sardines in their diet at least twice a week – fish fingers have very small amounts, if any, of the essential omegas. However, balance is key, so a good fish oil supplement that also contains some omega 6 oils will provide all-round support, especially with faddy eaters!
10 Energy Dips
Since kids are always on the go, we need to ensure they get their energy from sources other than quick fixes like sugary sweets and drinks. Balancing their blood sugar levels is essential, so including protein and wholegrains at each meal will help to slow down the release of sugars into the blood, providing a slow steady supply of energy throughout the day. Add to that, a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to cover any vital nutrients they may not be getting and you should have it all sown up!
Top tip: Nowadays kids want something they can take on the run – literally! So try them with a formula they can chew or swallow easily.
By Jacqueline Newson