The Fred and Wilma Dilemma -Vitamins

4 Jan

My child is a picky eater, can I give them a vitamin to help their appetite?  The only natural substance I know that that really increases appetite can’t be recommended for legal consumption (in most states, or any states for kids for that matter).

But, if you have a picky eater, there are some things that you can do to sure up their nutritional intake.

Xray of Child With Rickets

Xray of Child With Rickets

Let’s talk about the various needed for vitamins along the life span of your child…


Formula fed babies (those receiving at least 16 ounces of formula per day) do not require supplemental vitamins.

Breast milk is deficient in only 1 thing…vitamin D.  Vitamin D is found in food sources but can also be manufactured in our bodies by exposure to sunlight.  A lack of vitamin D has classicaly been associated with a disease called rickets which I have never personally seen before.  I was taught in residency that children in the south (Texas) do not require vitamin D supplementation because babies in the south get enough sunlight year round to prevent rickets.  In fact, our oldest boys (who were breast fed) did not receive vitamin D supplementation.  However, over the past few years there have been more and more studies that are pointing towards other benefits of vitamin D and there are now AAP guidelines stating that all children should be receiving some form of vitamin D supplementation.  You can take a look at the summary of the AAPs position on their Healthy Child website.  There are several brands of vitamin D supplementation available but the most common ones I see used are Poly-Vi-Sol and Tri-Vi-Sol.


Once your child has sufficiently stained all their one-sies and now refuses to drink those nasty liquid vitamin supplements (hopefully you got at least a couple doses down them), you can move on to a chewable multivitamin when the can chew them appropriately.  This is different for every child but we started this around 18 mo in our boys.  Again there are lots of brands available but a “Flinstone” multivitamin has everything you need (including vitamin D).  Lots of my families also like the gummy varieties and the kids seem to take them well.

I get lots of other specific requests about particular vitamins, etc.  I think the most common one that people are into right now is Juice Plus.  I have done some research on the subject and have been fairly impressed with what they have done.  There have been independent studies done by academic universities (not paid for by Juice Plus) that have shown benefit for using Juice Plus.  Most of the research has been done in adults but has shown benefits such as: improved immune function and decreases in inflammatory markers (which have been linked to heart disease and cancer).  When I looked, there were not many studies done in children but my understanding is that some have been done.  I can’t find any right now but if anyone has access to them (a Juice Plus distributor, perhaps) and can post them to the comments here on the blog, I will look into them and share them if I think they are appropriately done studies…


7 Responses to “The Fred and Wilma Dilemma -Vitamins”

  1. Alison south January 5, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    I just became a distributor for juice plus because my children takethem and it only makes since to sell it since the whole family is on them. They are actually doing a study on children now! If you ( the adult) take the supplements, than your child (over 4) can take the supplements for free… If you sign up for the case study! My oldest is currently in the study! So, hopefully, in a few years they will have some results! Thanks for your blog on this Dr. Smith!

  2. Hannah Jowers January 5, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    Personally I have taken juice plus for 10 years and my 3 oldest have taken them regularly too. Love them and love the research behind them. The children’s health study started in 1999 and you can find the results of the research at

  3. Alison south January 5, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Hannah, have you seen less sickness? We have only been on them for a month!

    • Hannah Jowers January 9, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      Yes, in fact it seems like when I run out and forget to order them or we go a short time without them it is when one of the kids will end up getting sick. My oldest is 6 and she has taken them since she was 18m. I can probably count on one hand the number of times she has been sick. I know that vitamins don’t have everything to do with that but it definantly helps!!!

  4. Christi Beerley February 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    So this may not help but my son, Andrew, is in the child study for JuicePlus and I know they do studies because we have to fill out a questionnaire every so often. Not sure if you remember the resistant eater, Andrew, but he drinks milk and eats fruit and that’s about all of it as far as nutritional eating. We’ve seen a major improvement in him physically since he’s been taking Juice Plus. He’s not sick nearly as much as he was before and he has much more stamina to get through a day now. We absolutely love Juice Plus and attribute his health to it…that and his love of milk. 🙂

    • jrsmith120880 February 11, 2013 at 2:39 am #

      Yeah, I know Juice Plus is doing studies on children and the results are being published. However, in adults, there are a lot of independent studies done at universities, etc that are showing benefits and that isn’t out there for kids…yet.

  5. theredstickskeptic September 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Studies like don’t tend to pan out. History is littered with positive preliminary data about vitamins and other nutritional supplements that are contradicted by bigger and better studies. Positive anecdotes are likely related to confirmation bias not true reductions in illness, which is a big part of why studies are done. Decreased inflammatory markers and increased levels of markers for immune function in test tubes and cell cultures are not sufficient to make recommendations. Plus the scientific consensus is that higher than recommended intake of many vitamins has significant risk. Just look at what happened with vitamin E and cardiovascular disease. What we know is that the health benefits from vitamins come from eating the foods that have them. Eating a variety of plants and limiting meat and junk food intake is the only truly evidence based recommendation for toddlers and older kids. Vitamin D and calcium is probably an exception in some populations.

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