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What About Supplements?

Let's admit it. Poor dietary habits among children are becoming the norm. Attracted by `cool' advertisements and ready access, many children today tend towards high-fat, high-sugar, and highly processed food. Once they start school, peer influence often makes the situation worse.

Parental power just isn't what it used to be, because they are not always there to control what their children eat. Creating healthy eating habits should be the starting point of all parental effort. But increasingly, the question is:

What About Adding A Nutritional Supplement?

  • Yes. Supplements provide essential nutrients that may be lacking in our children's diet. So, a daily multi-vitamins, multi-mineral supplement does help your child.
  • No. Supplements are not a substitute for good eating habits, nor are they a quick fix to longstanding dietary problems. Giving your child ginkgo one day before his exam isn't likely to make him an A-student overnight.

Choose Wisely

Some children's supplements on the market are little more than sugar pills with a few vitamins added. The cheapest product is frequently not the best, says doctor. Here are some general principles when selecting a good daily supplement for your child:


Not the shape, but the range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A Little Of Many Different Vitamins, Minerals And Antioxidants

A little of many different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is better than high doses of a few nutrients.


Too much of anything is harmful, but too little does no good. The right balance of nutrients is important because they often work in synergy.


What doesn't get into the body is simply wasted. So, go for supplements that provide nutrients in forms that are easily absorbed and used.

However, opinions vary even among the experts, as to what are the best, balance and form of nutrients.

Side Effects Of Taking Iron Supplements

Gastric symptoms, constipation and nausea are the most common problems of taking iron supplements. Madam Joanne, mother of two shares, "I really dislike taking iron supplements because I always end up having problems with my bowel movement. I had to force myself to drink seven to eight glasses of water everyday during that period of time to ease my constipation."

Increasing fibre and fluid intake can help prevent constipation. Some mothers like Mrs Angela swear by prune juice, "It really helps to stave off constipation. I try to drink at least one glass a day in the morning. Eating prunes help too." If the side effects continue to plague you, speak to your doctor about it. You may be able to avoid stomach problems by starting with a lower dosage of iron supplements, and gradually increasing the dosage.

Alternatively you can opt to take the iron in divided doses through the day. Mrs Linda prefers to go for a time-released formula to relieve her gastric problem, "I did not have the time to take several doses throughout the day so the slow release preparation my gynaecologist prescribed works just nicely for me." Sometimes the iron tablets can make your bowel movements dark-colored or even black. This color is from the extra iron that was not absorbed in your body and it is not harmful.


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