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Vitamins

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Health > Vitamins



Best quality vitamins/minerals

August 2006

I've recently started researching vitamins and my head began to spin as I realized that not all vitamins/minerals are the same. I was wondering if anyone with knowledge on the subject might recommend a good brand for an all around mulitvitamin/mineral supplement with the most superior ingredients for best health. I'm nursing right now so would perhaps best benefit from a prenatal suppl. We do not eat dairy so I have calcium concerns as well. I am also searching for a good vitamin/mineral supplement for my kids, as well as one for my husband. Aside from not eating dairy we have a pretty well rounded diet, avoid artificial stuff, refined sugars and eat organic produce and meats as often as possible. There are so many choices out there and then you have to know which kinds of vitamins and minerals are the best for your body- it's mind blowing. Hoping to get some info from someone out there who is better educated than me on the subject. I would prefer any online sites as I am frequently out of the Bay Area. Much thanks, Courtney


NEEDS (www.needs.com) is a great site for high-quality vitamins and minerals. Tyler, Nutribiotic/Allergy Research Group, and PhytoPharmica are some brands they carry which are excellent-- widely used by professional alt. health practitioners. Tyler has a prenatal, as well as some additional calcium supplements, which it sounds like you need. Good luck! Ellen

Non-constipating multi-vitamin w/iron for toddler

June 2006

Our 27 month old daughter gets extremely constipated from children's chewable vitamins bc of the iron. The only non-iron vitamins I can find are jelly-beans and she won't eat them. There is a liquid form, but she won't drink that, either. We've tried 3-4 brands and she has trouble with all of them. I want to make sure she gets enough iron, so I would like to know about gentle iron forms in toddler vitamins (they have gentle iron for adults, but not for kids, oddly enough). Or if anyone has ideas for the chewable vitamins that don't contain iron that i could alternate w/ the iron-including ones. Thanks Julie


There is a kind of liquid iron called ''Floradix'' and another called ''Floravital'' that has iron, B and c. It does not cause constipation. It can usually be found in health food stores with the supplements. The brown bottle is usually sold in a box, red and white. Refridgerate after opening. Good Luck
You might want to check out this link, http://parenting.ivillage.com/baby/bnutrition/0,,3q7f,00.html, and this link, http://www.askdrsears.com/html/8/T081100.asp. Both discuss studies that have definitively shown that iron is NOT constipating, and the Dr. Sears one also suggests step you can take to discover and ameliorate the root causes of your baby's constipation anon
Hi Julie, I have a great recommendation for you. Shaklee makes a wonderful multivitamin--tested for purity and potency, and easy to give to kids. It comes in an infant/toddler formula, totally non-constipating, and a good way to ensure that your child gets the iron she needs (that is the primary reason I give it to my 17-mos. old son too). If you'd like more information or to order these vitamins, please email or call me. Thanks, Sarah

Children's and adult multivitamins

June 2006

I am looking for recommendations of healthy multivitamins for children without additives and preferably that children like taking them. Any recommendations for adult multivitamins and/or reliable sites for purchase are also welcome. Thanks!


I would highly recommend a product called Toddler Health for your vitamin needs. It's a mix you add to water, milk or rice milk. I also sprinkle it on my daughter's oatmeal and cereal and sometimes add it to fruit smoothies. I like it because it is all-natural and contains a balanced offering of vitamins, antioxidents, Omega-3, protein without a lot of sugar, fat, or cholesterol. I compared the ingredients to Pedia Sure and it has 90% less fat and sugar than their formula. It also has only 50 calories instead of 250. The thing I like best about it is has natural fruit and vegetable extracts. My daughter is great about eating her organic fruits and veggies, but she's exposed to so many colds and viruses from preschool I wanted to be sure her immune system is really strong. I would highly recommend this product. My daughter loves the taste and I love the ingredients marilyn
I am looking forward to the responses on this one. My kids are now 9 and 11 and I have been looking for a vitamin with no additives that they will actually swallow since they have been old enough to chew them!! I have resorted to the good old standby...Flinstone vitamins

Vitamins that taste good

June 2006

The gummy vitamins my child likes have less than the daily vitamin requirements for children over the age of 5. I've tried several types of chewable vitamins and gumball vitamins that have higher vitamin content, but my child doesn't like the taste of any I've tried and he has trouble chewing them. Has anyone found gummy vitamins with significant levels of vitamins needed by children over 4 or can anyone recommend chewable vitamins that are easy to chew and taste good? vegemeatavitamin


We love Isotonix Might-A-Mins Children's Multivitamins. It's for 2-15 year old. It is not gummy vitamins, it's in powder form. Just mix with 2oz of water and it becomes ''juice''. It taste great and kids love it. It uses fructose and glucose, both naturally occurring sugars, blended with a delicious, natural Mandarin orange flavor. It has no artificial ingredients and can be absorbed extensively by the small intestine with very little waste. It provides the recommended daily allowances of most vitamins and minerals needed by children. In addition to 12 essential vitamins and 10 vital minerals, it has Phytonutrients (natural plant extracts) from a proprietary blend of fruits and vegetables. If you are intested in getting more information or buying it, please give me a call, or email me.

Do kids really need vitamins?

June 2006

My mom is really mad at me because I don't give my (3)kids vitamins. The reason I don't is I believe we eat a good, mostly organic diet and that we don't need to supplement. I think vitamins are a waste of money basically. My kids are not sick a lot, just the usual occasional cold (I have a preschooler who I'm sure brings home a fare number of germs). I'm wondering if there are others out there who agree with me, and I am interested in any compelling evidence that we may need vitamins Not pissing $20.


I agree with you. I won't waste my money on vitamins. We eat a healthy, varied diet and are pretty much never sick -- mom of a six year old
I agree with you completely. My kid is willing to eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, is astonishingly healthy for a preschooler, and I've never given him a single vitamin. If you need to for your peace of mind, it's possible to find a solid research literature supporting the notion that Americans who eat reasonable diets (kids included) do not generally have vitamin deficiencies, and only need vitamins if they have specific medical problems Karen
No, I don't give my kid (age 3) vitamins. I asked his doctor about it once, because my son is such a picky eater (he was pretty much subsisting on milk, Cheerios and raisins at the time, although it has since gotten better), and the doc said as long as he was eating the Cheerios he didn't need vitamins. If your kids eat a variety of healthy food, they should be getting pretty much everything they need. JP
Boy, it's tough when relatives get upset because we do things differently than they do. As I myself am a holistic doctor who specializes in nutritional health, this is something I have a lot of experience in. Usually the only time I recommend additional supplements are when the diet is not as complete as it could be (not getting enough veggies and fruits, etc) or if it's flu and cold season - I will add extra vitamin C to boost immunity. You mentioned your kids eat primarily organic and eat a healthy diet and that they are not often sick. It sounds like they do not need the vitamins and that you are doing a wonderful job raising them to be healthy.

As you know, there are plenty of opinions on the matter. Vitamins are kind of like insurance if there is doubt as to whether or not the child is getting adequate nutrition, so many professionals will recommend them. In your case, smile and thank your mom for her concern and reassure her that your children are thriving. Perhaps you may consider offering that if your children should become sick you would consider vitamin therapy as a way to restore their health.

Incidentally, we go to Pediatric Alternatives in Mill Valley and our pediatrician's only supplement recommendation has been Omega 3 oils for brain growth. She suggested a cod liver oil that tastes lemony and doesn't smell and is available either at her office or at Whole Foods. holisticdoc


No one needs vitamins if they are eating nutritious foods. I also don't believe in them. Your body was made to absorb the nutrients from natural foods. It does this much better than from any pill. Unless you've got a condition, like pernicious anemia where your body doesn't absorb a certain nutrient, then you don't need 'em. Healthy eating is where it's at
I do not give my child vitamins but I do give him cod liver oil and butter oil. Like you, I believe that the best source of vitamins are whole foods. Frankly, I am suspicious when industry takes the ''active'' material out of a natural substance and turns it into a pill. Studies have shown repeatedly that vitamins are better absorbed when they come from food sources, and my guess is that it's because the food sources contain other substances which are not included in manufactured vitamins because they are not considered ''active''.

I'm not sure if you eat meat or dairy, but studies have also shown that vitamins are better absorbed if consumed with animal fat. That doesn't mean you have to have animal fat if you don't want it, but if you do not eat it, you need to compensate by consuming more produce.

Also, it's important to realize that due to reasons such as soil depletion and market competition, food is actually less nutritious than it was 50 years ago. Food generally begins degrading after harvesting. For this reason it's important to buy the best and freshest produce/eggs/meat/grains you can afford, the produce from a farm that cares about their soil. Eat it soon and shop often instead of storing it for a couple of weeks in the fridge Tabinda


Sorry I don't hav compelling evidence as you've asked for, but I read somewhere that vitamins are toxic, as they provide far more than a body can use. Everything in excess becomes a toxin that the body has to somehow deal with and push out (defeating the purpose of vitamins which are supposed to ''support'' the system, rather than tax it). I read that eating a varied organic diet that is wholesome (i.e. not overly processed), is the best way to get the necessary nutrients. Make sure to eat your potato skins (some of its nutrients are not in the flesh, unless it's a purple potato), as well as cucumber skins (if unwaxed), winter squash skins (except spaghetti squash - yuck) etc. Eat the whole food whenever possible, to get the full range of nutrients. I also read that if you want to support your immune system, herbs are far better than vitamins, because it's far less likely you will overdo it and toxify yourself anon
I found a terrific product at Whole Foods called Toddler Health. It has antioxidants, 24 vitamins and minerals and it contains real fruit and vegetable extracts...sweetened with xylitol, not sugar....much lower in carbs, fat and sugar than Pedia Sure and it tastes good. My daughter likes vanilla the best. I sprinkle it on oatmeal, put it in smoothies and mix it with milk Marilyn

Newborn Vitamin K Shot

Feb 2004

We are deciding about newborn protocols, including vitamin K shot right after birth. I've read mixed information--some say it is unnecessary and some that it is vital. Any resources would be helpful, articles, etc. Thanks
First-Time Mom


Both my kids - now 14 and 10 years old - were given vitamin k orally, rather than by injection. I believe I had to get orders (prescription?) from our pediatrician, which we brought with us to the hospital. I don't know if I was convinced one way or the other about the need for vit. K, but I wanted to avoid inflicting more pain than necessary on my newborn! R.K.
I don't have advice as to whether to choose to have the Vitamin K shot administered. However, I do highly recommend asking the nurse to administer any newborn shots while you are nursing your baby. Both my sister and I asked our nurses at Alta Bates to do this, and our babies did not cry (and barely flinched) while getting their shots. anon
I have heard that the MOM can get the vitamin K shot now. But an interesting and viable alternative is for the mom to do probiotics (lactobacillus and bifidum acidophilus) 3 weeks prior to delivery. This ''colony'' can provide the baby, when delivered vaginally, with the friendlies that synthesize vitamin K for us in the gut. Nori
I know that it's hard to contemplate your newborn being given a shot at birth, ecch. I didn't like it, either. But from what I read, Vitamin K is pretty important. So I investigated it, and found that the vitamin K shot is the same substance that can be given orally. I asked that it be given orally instead. (I was being sewn up from my C-section, so I don't know, but I trust that it was given that way.) Good luck. Jennie
I was conflicted about the K shot too, but decided to go with the shot (not oral version) for a few reasons: The vit. K that is given orally is not a special oral preparation, it is just the stuff that they would put in a shot and was formulated with the intention of being administered that way. I'm not sure if they have done tests for effectiveness when given orally, but it made sense to me to give it in the way it was made to be given. I figured that birth is so painful and physically traumatic for a baby, being smushed and squeezed through a tiny hole, that what is another second of pain from a shot? Also, it supposedly tastes absolutely terrible. My midwife, who was very open and encouraging of alternative options was in favor of the shot for a reason that I thought made a lot of sense- babies are so oral- why start their life with a terrible oral experience when they are seeking the pleasureable oral experiences of nursing, sucking, etc. Actually, my baby didn't even cry when he got the shot! martha
The Vitamin K shot for newborns is basically one of those things that addresses a rare, but potentially dangerous condition. Because the shot is inexpensive, it is rutinely given in this country.

Vitamin K helps with blood clotting. The potential risk is that a newborn may have some internal injury due to birth trauma, and may bleed internally without outward symptoms.

My understanding is that there are two effective alternatives to the injection.

The first is oral. Research shows this is just as effective as the shot. While it is routine in other countries, it is not commonly done here and an oral dose is not commercially available. You can ask for oral Vit. K and they will administer the dose prepared for injection orally. Apparently it is not very tasty, and often elicits grimaces and crying.

The second option is dietary. Although Vit. K does not pass well through breast milk, it does readily cross the placenta. Research shows that the babies of women who eat diets rich in Vit. K during pregnancy have sufficient vit. k in their blood at birth.

Leafy greens are the best source of vitamin k. Freezing destroys it, but it can withstand cooking/heat. According to the USDA, the best greens are amaranth greens (also known as hing choi or hin choi) which are sometimes available at Berkeley Bowl, Monterey Market, or other groceries catering to asian shoppers.

Another excellent source are herbs such as alfalfa (presumably sprouts, too), red clover, nettles, and red raspberry leaf. Al these herbs are generally used for pregnancy and helpful in other ways as well (e.g., helping prevent pre-eclampsia). Using an infusion (herbal tea) of these 4 herbs is an excellent way to stay well-hydrated and increase your vitamin K intake.

BTW, this worked well enough for our second child that the mid-wives had difficultly getting enough blood out of her before she clotted up during the PKU test.

Of course, you should check with your provider and make a well-informed decision. Peter


Natural multi vitamin for toddler

Oct. 2002

Recently, my 18 month-old came down with a couple of infections that accompanied (cold) sores in the mouth. Since then, he has become a ''picky eater,'' refusing fruits and other food he used to enjoy before. Does anyone have any suggestions on a safe/natural multi vitamin product that is appropriate for his age? Thank you in advance for your advice. Monica


Gummy vites, at Trader Joe's, and sometimes available in larger bottles at Costco. Sally

Are synthetic vitamins useless?

Jan 2002

My Mom who lives in Europe said that the pediatricians there insist that the american vitamins are synthetically processed and therefore have little value to them. I use children's chewable vitamins without artificial coloring, starch, yeast etc so the "best" I can find on the market. Any opinions ? Thank you. Simona


I have read a fair amount on this subject and synthetic vitamins are NOT useless for adults, and I assume the same is true for children. There are a couple of vitamins (e.g., vitamin E, I believe) that are better consumed in a "natural" form. But for the vast majority of vitamins it does not matter how they were processed. All work equally well. It is good to look for a "USP" label on your vitamins, and of course, it is best to get adequate vitamins and minerals from a variety of healthy foods. But I know I don't get what I need from my diet and take a daily multivitamin. liz
This is not a topic I have done research on, but I recently heard something quite similar from my sister-in-law in France. Apparently her pediatrician recommends agaist giving multivitamins to children on the grounds that the body doesn't develop the mechanisms to synthesize vitamins from food. Although I plan to ask about this at my daughter's next well-child visit, I'm inclined to chalk it up to differences in pediatric recommendations between Europe and the US. In France at least, recommendations for prenatal care are quite different (only one glass of wine with meals, no more than 2 cups of coffee, and a limit of 5 cigarettes a day!), as are recommendations for feeding solids, dental care, car seat safety... the list goes on. My hunch is that theories on multivitamins fall into this category.

There's a lot of conflicting information within any one culture, and it only gets more complicated when you factor in medical practices from other cultures. I'll be interested to see the range of replies on this one, too. My own choice has been to weigh the unproven harm of giving multivitamins against my daughter's abysmal eating habits, and get high-quality vitamins. Best of luck, Jennifer


I've heard of a study done with incarcerated children who have a history of violent behavior and home life. The only change to their diets was the addition of a daily, generic, over the counter multivitamin free of artificial colors. After some period of time their was supposed to have been a marked decrease in antisocial behavior and improvements in their academic achievement. So, synthetic vitamins do have an effect. I doubt your child would show such a dramatic change with the addition or deletion of a synthetic or natural multivitamin.

There are inherent drawbacks in removing nutrients from their natural context. So, the all natural pills are not without some deficiencies. Many vitamins occur with other similar compounds that have important functions along other metabolic pathways. I would suggest selecting whole foods that provide a variety of nutrients and limiting foods that are nutrient poor. Here are some easy trade offs:


+ Whole grain instead of refined grain products
+ Fish instead of mammals
+ Fruit instead of fruit drinks
+ Cook extra portions when there's time to cook then serve them later instead of some "meal from a box"

In general, vitamin pills provide the most benefit to those who manufacture and sell them. Gregg


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