Do children need vitamins or nutritional supplements?

Do children need vitamins or nutritional supplements?
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Do children need vitamins or nutritional supplements?

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I don't think that healthy breast fed babies and healthy well fed children need a lot of supplements. The American Academy of Pediatrics kind of knuckled under and is now recommending iron supplements for breast feeding babies and Vitamin D supplements, but the science isn't good. What I recommend for parents and their kids is to take 3 supplements starting at 9-12 months of age. I think we all need Omega-3 fatty acids. Some people use fish oil. I use a vegetarian form of Omega-3 fatty acids. I think we all need extra Vitamin D, or we might need extra Vitamin D starting at a year of age, and I err on the side of caution for adults. I tell them 1000 or 2000 units, 400 extra units for your 9-12 month old. And I think the probiotic supplements are good to help balance the bacteria in the intestines. I don't think that kids who eat well need multi-vitamins. I don't think that they need extra iron. There are special cases. Premature babies. Kids with intestinal issues. But other than Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotic acids, Vitamin D, I don't recommend supplements for healthy children or adults.

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Expert Bio

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Jay Gordon, MD

Pediatrician

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP, IBCLC - In the middle of his residency training, pediatrician Jay Gordon took an unusual step. Deciding that he needed greater knowledge about nutrition, vitamins, and alternative medicine in order to practice medicine the way he wanted to, Dr. Gordon took a Senior Fellowship in Pediatric Nutrition at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York City. After his residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Dr. Gordon joined the teaching attending faculty at UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Intensely interested in infant nutrition and breastfeeding, Dr. Gordon is the first male physician to sit for and pass the International Board of Lactation Certification Exam and has served on the Professional Advisory Board of La Leche League for 24 years.

In addition to treating patients, he participates in the training of medical students and residents, lectures all over the world, writes books, and writes a monthly column for “Fit Pregnancy” magazine. He has contributed to “New York Parent,” “Parenting” magazine and has been quoted in the L.A. Times, New York Times, and The London Times.

Dr. Gordon’s first book, the well-received Good Food Today, Great Kids Tomorrow, offers a life-changing plan for families who want to make dramatic changes in health and fitness through nutrition. Brighter Baby examines the positive effect that attachment parenting, combined with infant massage, has on children’s health and intelligence. Other releases include: Good Night! The Parents’ Guide to the Family Bed and Hug Your Baby, a Gentle Guide through the First Year, which was released summer, 2002. He also authored Listening To Your Baby: A New Approach to Parenting Your Newborn, which still gets great reviews from parents. His most recent book is The ADD and ADHD Cure, the Natural Way to Treat Hyperactivity and Refocus Your Child.

When the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Television and the Media named Dr. Gordon “the most influential doctor in America,” they were referring, tongue-in-cheek, to Dr. Gordon’s role, as the medical script consultant, in eliminating lollipops from the office of “Doctor Weston,” lead character on the sitcom “Empty Nest.”

After two years of consulting on television scripts, sets, and ideas, Dr. Gordon was named CBS TV’s Medical Consultant for Children’s programming. He also worked for five years on ABC Television as the on-air medical correspondent for the “Home Show,” and continues to consult regularly for television and movies. He’s appeared on Fox 11 News, ABC’s 20/20 and most recently on Larry King Live. 

Dr. Gordon contributed and wrote the forward to Smart Medicine for a Healthy Child and The Encyclopedia of Vitamins and Supplements (both published in 1999), is pediatric consultant for “Fit Pregnancy” magazine and a frequent contributor to “Parents,” “Parenting,” and other media outlets.
 Busy as he is, Dr. Gordon finds that his most challenging job is “being a good husband and the best possible parent to my 22 year-old daughter.”

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