I was raised by hippies. As evidence, consider this photo of me and my father:
If you were to visit my family home 30 or so years ago, you’d see a few telltale signs that hippies lived there: jars of licorice root and dried chamomile flowers for making herbal tea, black market raw milk in the fridge and lots and lots of vitamins. My parents believed that a healthy diet supplemented by vitamins could help ward off disease. It’s certainly true that the vitamins and minerals we consume help to support a healthy immune system, so I can see their point. What this means is that from a very young age I have taken vitamins. Some of my earliest memories involve taking trips to the health food store and coming home with Swiss Natural products, with their blue and yellow label. And so, when I was asked to work as a Swiss Natural Ambassador, I agreed. I have been taking their vitamin and mineral supplements my whole life.
Now I have kids, and I have had to make my own decisions about vitamins. I wouldn’t say that I am as sold on their value as my parents, so I did some research. The Dietitians of Canada say that while they’re not a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet, vitamin and mineral supplements are needed at certain stages of the lifecycle to promote good health. For example, the Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that all breastfeeding infants get at least 400 IU of vitamin D every day. Studies show that 10% or more Canadians don’t get enough calcium or vitamin D, and that there are also a significant minority who don’t get enough vitamin C, vitamin A, B6, folate, B12, iron, zinc and magnesium. And while taking too many supplements is a cause for concern, studies on over-supplementation only found problems in people who used 20-30 times the recommended daily amount.
My kids ran as fast as they could, and they caught the gingerbread man. Was it the vitamins?
That information – none of which comes from Swiss Natural, by the way – suggests that our first priority as parents should be ensuring that we offer our kids a variety of healthy foods. But even if we’re doing that, we may still want to offer certain supplements, and at normal doses those supplements are safe. I’m especially concerned about my kids’ vitamin D levels. On top of that, my kids can be very picky. I’m not always confident they’re getting all the nutrients they need. This is why, like a lot of parents, I’ve opted to give my kids a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to cover my bases. And since I’m not giving them 20-30 a day, I think we’ll be okay.
My kids got some Total One Kids Multi Vitamin & Mineral from Swiss Natural to try out, and they like them. They’re now proud members of the Swiss Kids Club. Like pretty much all children’s vitamins, Total One Kids come in exciting shapes – an orca, a penguin and a bear. They also come in three different flavours, and fun colours. Plus, they contain 500 IU of vitamin D, which in the winter in Canada is a pretty good thing. I like that they aren’t masquerading as candy, like gummy vitamins can. I also appreciate that they don’t contain artificial flavours or colours. Have they made my kids noticeably healthier? No. But as I said, I feel like my bases are covered. And I’m willing to overlook the fact that they’ve grouped a polar bear and a penguin together.
Right now, Swiss Natural is running a contest to name their “Polar Pals” – the bear, orca and penguin. Visit their Facebook page for full details. You could win a family fun gaming prize pack worth $1000. Plus, you’d have the satisfaction of having named the Polar Pals well, and no one can put a dollar amount on that.
Now, tell me – do you offer your kids vitamins, and how do you choose which ones to give them? I’d love to hear!
Disclosure: As a Swiss Natural Ambassador, I was paid to write this post.