By: Peter V. Quenter, Natural Health Counsellor
School - time again to think of natural support for the hard working brains of our young ones, and for the challenges to their immune systems during their years of growing mental and physical activity.
Fight off germs with the right probiotic
Digestive comfort and health is at the core of much of our overall wellbeing. Many recent studies confirm digestive health is linked to mental and cognitive abilities. Besides a nutritious diet, a good balance of probiotic bacteria plays a crucial role in the production of mood- and ‘happy-chemicals’ such as dopamine, vitamins and fatty acids for immune system support, regulation of inflammatory processes, and mental- cognitive functions.
You can find probiotics specifically chosen for toddlers and school age children. Look for those that contain strains which will survive naturally in the digestive tract (‘human-strains’), do not require enteric coating, are clinically recognized for their therapeutic value, are in ‘veggie’capsules and, ideally, glass containers; these factors ensure better shelf stability and longer-term maintenance of potency.
Boost your child’s brain with DHA
While speaking of the gut-brain connection, consider that the human brain consists of large amounts of fats, and that especially the young developing brain requires plenty healthy Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and their derivatives. DHA and AA (Arachidonic acid) are the two most abundant in our brains. Crucially important for healthy brain development, neurological- and nerve function, as well as for keeping up our smarts, they can be useful for the elderly with memory problems, too.
Besides, Omega 3 & 6 also helps with skin problems, such as eczema, and inflammation, and really ought to be taken at any age.
For children specifically, the addition of DHA & AA for the young brain adds much therapeutic value. You can find specific Evening Primrose oil which also contains DHA & AA sourced from quality and tested clean fish-oil, has shown clear improvement in learning ability and behaviour, and has been used for several decades with good results in cases of learning- and behavioural difficulties. Health Canada recognizes the validity of clinical studies performed with children and adults with ADHD, maladjusted behavior, hyperactivity, learning problems, dyslexia and autism. The studies showed improvement between 40% - 75% in these varying symptoms: reduction in hyperactivity, attention, conduct, ODD, dexterity, reading problems, anxiety, aggressive behaviour, improvement in learning ability, memory, concentration, and more.
Not all multi’s are the same
As a third leg to solidly stand upon, adding a quality bone-building multi vitamin-mineral will round out a child’s daily easy Natural Health routine. The young body builds 90% of its bone strength during childhood and teenage years! A good multivitamin specifically designed for the age group will ensure good support of specifically those nutrients required in large amounts during the challenging years of growth and development.
Ask your local store staff for a pleasant tasting liquid tonic for children that provides the right proportions of food-based mineral compounds along with anti-oxidants and other vitamins in a natural juice base. It makes it easier to take than tablets and healthier than the candy-style chewables, which often contain binders, unnecessary fillers, and flavours, and are less efficiently absorbed.
Healthy fatty acids nourishing the brain, minerals for bones and growth, vitamins needed by every cell in our body, and probiotics for digestive health and brain function cover a wide range of support and benefits for the young child all the way into their teenage years.
A couple of final notes - considering the young developing digestive system, it is worthwhile making it a priority to use products in liquid or powder form whenever available as they are more easily absorbed by the body. Pay attention, though, many liquids are provided in plastic bottles and contain preservatives, which you can avoid by reading labels or simply asking the staff at your local Natural Food store to guide you to the quality product choices.
To make sure your supplements dollars are spent wisely and efficiently, look for companies and products that have a long history of world-wide recognition and respect in both the manufacturing industry, as well as the scientific community; some select products are indeed backed by clinical studies and you can use this information to your benefit, too.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.