How Vitamins, Sunshine and Antibiotics Have Changed Things for Your Kids

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I grew up eating very different food than my children eat. I’m not just talking about different items on the menu, but an apples-to-apples comparison of the same foods shows a substantial difference in nutrient density.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my wife say “tomatoes just don’t taste the way they did when I was growing up”. They don’t. And they don’t have as many nutrients, either. The soil our tomatoes (and every other agricultural product) grow in is far less nutrient rich than it was even 30 years ago.

Unless you and your family are getting a solid diet of organic fruits and vegetables, vitamin supplementation has become the name of the nutrition game

In fact, a lot more than just our fruits and vegetables have changed since then.

Even something as commonplace as sunscreen changes the way our bodies experience sun (the mechanism used by our bodies to generate Vitamin D). While I agree that sunscreen is needed, it also impacts our body’s uptake of this critical nutrient.

Another example – antibiotics. They can be life saving, but they can also kill positive bacteria that our bodies need to maintain a healthy digestive system. This is another area where supplementation, in the form of pro-biotics, has gone from forward thinking to defensive maneuver.

Lower nutrient density in food, different exposure to sun, and antibiotic use are three reasons I recommend certain vitamins for kids. Watch this week’s video for details:

Life is different than it used to be. Some parts are much better. Some are worse. I’m thankful for high-quality vitamins and supplements to help make up for some of the negative changes in today’s wonderful world.

If you’ve got any questions that I didn’t cover in the video, tell me in the comments and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

For more information:

What nutrients, vitamins and minerals are on your list of “the Greene 13″?
Probiotics: Powerful Prevention
Health Check: Are Your Kids Getting Enough Vitamin D?

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Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. Cie Boyle

    Dr. Greene, I have been wondering about this for my 26 month old who is largely vegetarian but won’t eat many greens. Vitamin D is not an issue as he drinks enough milk and is outside daily in the sun. He gets sick a lot after he is in contact with other kids in an inside place. Is there any specific brand of multivitamin you can recommend? Thanks.

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    • Laura

      Your body needs fat soluble vitamins, found exclusively in animal products, to utilize vitamin D. I highly recommend looking into adding high quality animal products and reading Nourishing Traditions or visiting the Weston Price Foundation website. We follow these dietary principles and my children are hardly ever sick.

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  2. Sofia Pinzarrone-Youngs

    do you recommend any particular multi vitamin for toddlers? I always hear that they are full of sugar so avoided them, also under the impression as you mentioned that if they are eating well it is not necessary but agree this is not always feasible.

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    • Alan Greene

      I don’t recommend a particular multi-vitamin for toddlers. I agree that too much sugar is a concern. I worked for awhile with TwinLab on their Infant Care Multivitamin Drops for infants and toddlers and have no connection with them now. They “do not contain artificial colors or flavors, sugars or sweeteners, fructose, honey, sorbitol, alcohol or preservatives.”

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  3. Sumayyah's Mommy

    What’s your opinion on Multivitamins & Iron for babies (< 1year old) that are breastfed and mom is taking these supplements?

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    • Alan Greene

      In the first year, Sumayyah’s Mommy, healthy breastfed babies are getting great nutrition from breast milk and plenty of vitamins and minerals — with two common exceptions.

      Breast milk is usually considered ‘low’ in vitamin D. This is not because there is something wrong with breast milk. For most of human history babies go lots of vitamin D from the sun. Recently though, with babies spending most of the day indoors, and wearing sunscreen when outdoors, many breastfed babies are not getting optimal levels of vitamin D.

      One way to correct this is to give breastfed babies 400 IU vitamin D daily. Another way to do this is to give the mother a multivitamin with 400 IU daily _plus_ a daily supplement of 6000 IU vitamin D. This can be good for moms, and their babies can get as much vitamin D through the breast milk as they would get by taking the supplement (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/176615657)

      Breast milk is usually also ‘low’ in iron (though it is more bioavailable than other iron). I believe this relatively low level is because babies historically got important iron another way (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw53X98EvLQ). Supplementing iron to mother does not seem to make a big difference on the iron levels in her milk (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17290563). I’m a fan of iron rich foods for babies when they have started solids and considering an iron supplement if there is a concern.

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