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The Educational Benefits of Vitamins

July 25, 2012 / Posted by in Blog

Written by Alexa Kallianiotes
Edited by Stacy Padula

Every parent wants to give their children the best possible advantages to perform well in school. Parents invest time, energy, and money to propel their children academically. Yet, something as simple as vitamin supplements is often overlooked. Taking vitamins is a simple and sure way to ensure that a child’s daily dietary requirements are being met. Hectic schedules make it difficult to maintain the proper nutrition vital to a child’s development; vitamins can fill in the blanks that daily food intake may not fulfill.

While many argue that vitamin supplements do not impact school performance, others enthusiastically support that vitamins play a crucial role in brain development and function. Either way, introducing a child to vitamins can only help them.

Most often, the biggest concern parents have when choosing a multivitamin for their children is what vitamins and minerals to look for on the back of the box. Children’s bodies have specialized needs; therefore among all vitamins and minerals, experts recommend these top 6 for growing kids (according to WebMD):

• Vitamin A promotes normal growth and development, tissue and bone repair, as well as healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. Good sources include milk, cheese, eggs, and yellow-to-orange vegetables like carrots, yams, and squash.

• The Vitamin B family — B2, B3, B6, and B12 — aids metabolism, energy production, and healthy circulatory and nervous systems. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, and soybeans.

• Vitamin C promotes healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin. Good sources include citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, and green vegetables like broccoli.

• Vitamin D promotes bone and tooth formation and helps the body absorb calcium. Good sources include milk, cheese, and yogurt (especially fortified dairy products), egg yolks, and fish oil.

• Calcium helps build strong bones as a child grows. Good sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and calcium-fortified orange juice.

• Iron builds muscle and is essential to healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency is a risk in adolescence, especially for girls once they begin to menstruate. Good sources include beef and other red meats, turkey, pork, spinach, beans, and prunes.

According to Stephen J. Schoenthaler, professor of Nutrition and Behavior at California State University at Long Beach, children taking the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and mineral supplements for three months, learned 14 different academic subjects at twice the rate as children given a placebo. Therefore, vitamin supplements should be a part of maintaining a child’s wellness and be viewed just as important as good nutrition, fresh air, adequate sleep, and exercise.

Another beneficial supplement for children is Omega 3 fatty acid. This supplement has gained rapid popularity because of its advantages for every age group. Omega 3 fatty acids can aid in cognitive development, asthma risk, and growth. Studies show that infants fed formulas enriched with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA show improvements in hand-eye coordination, attention span, social skills, and intelligence test scores.

Omega 3 supplements also greatly benefit children with Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The University of Maryland Medical Center found children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have low levels of certain essential fatty acids (including EPA and DHA). In a clinical study of nearly 100 boys, those with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids had more learning and behavioral problems (such as temper tantrums and sleep disturbances) than boys with normal omega-3 fatty acid levels.

Summer is an ideal time to become familiar with the wide variety of children’s vitamin supplements on the market. There is ample time to incorporate vitamin use into a child’s routine. This will allow enough time for the child to derive the full benefits of taking vitamins. There is a plethora of kid-friendly vitamins on the market today. Gone are the days when vitamins looked drab and tasted nasty. Today, children’s vitamins come in different shapes, colors, textures, and flavors. The consumer can choose amongst bears, dinosaurs, sharks, princesses, and even worms. The texture can range from chewy to grainy and from sweet to sour. The colors are vibrant and the packaging is eye-catching. In fact, they look and taste as good, if not better, than candy! Parents may want to include their children while selecting a vitamin, so they’ll choose one that they’ll actually enjoy taking.

Younger children should be cautioned not to take vitamins without adult supervision and not to think of them as candy. It is also helpful to note, vitamin supplements work best when taken with food, as they bind to it, which makes the vitamin work better. Many types of organic vitamins are also available. These are free of artificial colors and additives—a great option for children with allergies.

Take the opportunity this summer to learn more about vitamin supplements and how your child may benefit. You might be surprised!

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