“I’ve tried vitamin and mineral supplements for my child before, it didn’t really help” Adelaide based, children’s health Naturopath Ashlee Yates has heard this one many times before. It usually comes from other parents at school after they find out that she’s a naturopath that who works predominantly with children. We’d like to take a moment to address it and find out once and for all, do vitamin supplements work?
Why hasn’t the nutritional supplement helped?
Have you given your kids a nutritional supplement in the past, but it didn’t really seem to do anything?
You’re probably quite reluctant to give nutritional medicine another go. So we thought we’d shed some light as to what could have gone wrong and why that particular supplement didn’t help as much as you were hoping.
Firstly, what kind of supplement did you try?
Now, there can be a lot of reason behind why an over the counter supplement hasn’t helped your children, or you and other family members in the past.
It’s usually the chemical form of the nutrient used in the supplement.
When you think about a vitamin or mineral supplement, some things that probably come to mind are Vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron. For a lot of people that’s all they’re looking for when they’re buying a specific supplement from the chemist.
But it’s actually a lot more complicated than that.
There are a multitude of different chemical forms of a single nutrient and each of them can do very different things in the body.
Different forms of the same nutrient can have different effects
As an example, a form of magnesium, called magnesium citrate, actually acts as a laxative. So that’s great to know if you’re child tends to be constipated and you’re looking for a safe and gentle laxative to use occasionally. But if you’re looking to boost up their magnesium levels because they’re anxious and having trouble sleeping, or they have growing pains, it’s really not going to help at all.
So just because the magnesium supplement has a label on it advertising it for use as a sleeping aid for children, if you look at the ingredients list and it says magnesium citrate, unfortunately that’s really not going to help them get to sleep and stay asleep.
So why do companies that sell over the counter supplements make them with less effective forms of the nutrient?
Honestly, it’s because it’s cheaper for them to produce. These less effective chemical forms of nutrients are very cheap to manufacture and package, so the profit margin is higher. Unfortunately they make up for the fact that they’re using a cheaper, less effective chemical form by putting a lot more of it in the supplement and hoping that some of it manages to absorb. That theory doesn’t always have a positive effect on the body.
Unfortunately, cheaper ingredients can cause problems
A good example of this is iron.
The cheap chemical form of iron is ferrous sulphate. It’s a very common form used in over the counter iron supplements. It’s responsible for all the nasty and unpleasant side effects associated with taking iron tablets. We’re talking about constipation, abdominal bloating and black coloured stools.
Ferrous sulphate is not very good at boosting up your iron levels in comparison to other chemical forms of iron. This is especially true if you’re iron levels are extremely low and your doctor has diagnosed you or your child as anemic.
The cheaper nutrient is usually ineffective
A common issue I come across is frequent or even constant iron supplementation with ferrous sulphate. When this never helps boost iron levels, then people are advised to have iron transfusions as supplementation hasn’t helped.
We obviously really want to avoid iron deficiency coming to that point, particularly with children.
So talk to us at Body Institute, this is what we do. We understand the complex processes involved with nutrient supplementation.
If your or your child has been diagnosed with a nutrient deficiency, we know how to address the deficiency properly.
Want more from Body Institute? Check out loads of great resources right here… https://www.body-institute.com.au/resources/