Jane Wolfe looks at the current big health issues affecting children and asks what natural solutions
health stores can offer concerned parents
When it comes to children’s health, parents are becoming more aware of the potential side effects, and often pure ineffectiveness, of conventional medicine, and this is where natural health stores can step in to provide safe and effective solutions for a range of issues which commonly affect kids.
“Obviously for a parent the health of their child is of paramount importance, and unfortunately we are seeing so many problems like allergies becoming more frequent,” explains Marta Anhelush, clinical nutrition adviser at BioCare.
“I see that the solutions parents are getting from their GPs aren’t really enough, so more people are turning to herbs, nutrients and vitamins.”
But where do dietary supplements fit into the realm of children’s health? Are they really a necessity or should a wholesome diet be enough to fulfil the nutritional needs of kids? “Children’s bodies are very busy – trying to gain immunity, while growing, while cognitive development happens alongside, so they are using nutrients at a rate of knots,” says Jenny Watson, co-owner of Energetic Health in Cobham. “The goodness you put into children is really overstretched, so I absolutely feel that good nutrition plus supplements are vital for healthy children.”
Paediatric nutritionist Belinda Blake sees supplements as helpful as more of a short-term aid to good health. “With a lot of the children I work with, if the gut is damaged they won’t be absorbing the good nutrients from whatever they are eating, so supplements can be really helpful initially. But they are not a long-term solution at all; it is just to get them over a period of illness and get the healing working, and then it’s down to food.”
“Not many of us eat a 100% pure, varied organic diet,” says Matt Woodhead of Good & Green, East Grinstead, “and even if you do, you still don’t get what your body needs as the soil in this country is very poor – it’s been killed over the years. Also it’s a bit of a struggle to get children to eat their greens and fruits, so parents need to supplement the diet.”
Stephen Terrass from Terranova explains that the brand’s Green Child range, which launched last year, was formulated to provide broad-based nutritional supplementation for kids but with no manufacturing additives, sugar or artificial sweeteners. “It doesn’t make sense to me to have children’s food supplements that pander to what is wrong in the dietary selection of that child. You teach them it’s best to choose a piece of fruit over candy, but at the same time you’re giving them a vitamin that tastes like candy. Psychologically it’s the wrong message. When you’re trying to incorporate a healthier mindset, the last thing we need is another sugary superhero product.”
Blake says the children she sees often present with autoimmune disease and severe digestive problems. “These are complicated issues,” she says. “A lot of it stems from the gut, so we look at healing that to support digestion. And many children with autoimmune disease will also have food sensitivities and allergies, so we work with them to identify what might be going on, removing anything in the diet that we need to and putting in foods and maybe supplements that will help the gut start functioning properly. If there’s one thing I would stress, it is to sort out the digestion and the gut – that is absolutely key.
“We first make sure there are prebiotics to feed the friendly bacteria and make sure they hang around and proliferate. And then we look at putting in broad spectrum probiotics, using live foods, which can be tricky with children – it’s great if they can tolerate live yoghurt.”
Woodhead recently introduced children’s probiotics after requests from parents. “We now stock OptiBac Probiotics for Babies and Children which is in powder form so can be easily mixed and is suitable for children from a very young age,” he says.
“For digestive issues we would recommend Children’s Banana BioAcidophilus powder for older children – it’s a good combination and quite potent so it can help with constipation, diarrhoea and bloating,” says Anhelush.
The big D deficiency
With all the publicity about vitamin D deficiency and the return of rickets, you’d think parents would be rushing to get a natural fix for their offspring. But apparently not. “A lot of people don’t seem to know they should be giving their children vitamin D,” says Watson, “so it’s something we educate on as well as suggest. We recommend BioCare’s Children’s BioMulsion D – it’s easy to give and tastes good.”
“Although there has been a lot of publicity in the media, the message about vitamin D is still not being communicated through primary care providers,” says Anhelush. “Children only get tested for vitamin D if they have specific bone issues, but it should be routine to test regularly. The customers we get are more aware of those things, but knowledge still varies greatly with the general population.”
Skin health is another common problem parents take to health stores. “We get a lot of people coming in about molluscum – which we deal with in a homeopathic way – as well as eczema, dermatitis and allergic reactions,” says Watson. “We boost up
the immune system because if you are
reacting then there is obviously something out of balance; then we would also look at any topical amelioration. We’re very big on vitamin D for immunity and we also prescribe a lot of tissue salts for children too.”
Susanne Haar, superintendent pharmacist at Nelsons Pharmacy, also sees a lot of eczema cases, which she refers to the clinic. “It can be stress- or pollution-related, but it is often down to food allergies because there are a lot of additives in our foods now. We see a lot of diet-related skin problems.”
“If you think about how a baby was born and fed, this affects their future digestive and immune health”
“MooGoo is a particular product that has proved really successful with some of the younger kids with eczema,” says Woodhead. “The MooGoo Irritable Skin Balm is one of our best sellers.”
Anhelush comes across a lot of children with allergies. “Certainly conditions like eczema and asthma are problematic. Also immunity, so infections and colds, and digestive issues too. Actually all these things are connected. If you think about how a baby was born and fed, this affects their future digestive and immune health. If they were born naturally and then breast fed, they get lots of bacteria and good immune-supporting nutrients from the breast milk, and that supports gut bacteria. If these things aren’t set from the beginning then there may be digestive complaints, things like colic, and this can move on to allergies. This is what we call the allergic march; so it starts with eczema which can develop into asthma and then later maybe hay fever.”
Haar has seen a rise in the incidence of hay fever. “For things like streaming and itchy eyes we recommend euphrasia or a hay fever combination like Nelsons Pollenna, and Arsenicum album works for burning symptoms.”
Blake finds many parents keen to support their child’s learning at school, seeking solutions for better concentration and cognitive performance. “There are also children who can’t sit and focus very easily, so again we are looking at possible sensitivity, perhaps additives that may be sneaking in and causing problems. Deficiencies in essential fats can also play a big role with concentration issues. A lot of children aren’t eating good sources of omega-3; they tend to consume a lot of omega-6 and other fats, but aren’t eating fish and seeds.”
“Problems with cognitive performance, low concentration, mood changes and ADHD often have a nutritional or dietary origin or are exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies as well as an improper diet,” says Terrass. “People are learning that when the digestive system isn’t functioning well it snowballs into other kinds of maladies. The gut-brain connection is probably the most famous of these, and with children this is a big issue, in part because there’s a very strong correlation between gut function and the autistic spectrum and ADHD.”
Woodhead also sees parents coming in for help to develop their kids’ concentration and focus. “We’ve got Kids Smart Focus flavoured jellies from Higher Nature which contain your omegas. When you look at an average child’s diet, I can’t see where they’d really come across a lot of omega 3.”
“At the moment, with exams coming up, stress is a really big issue with children,” says Haar. “They feel pressure to do well, and this definitely seems to be much more of a problem now.” She recommends Rescue Remedy and tissue salts to calm the stress, and B complex.
Anhelush agrees stress is a major problem and says it can go hand in hand with ADHD. “It is more difficult for children to study if they can’t focus and concentrate; that’s stressful for the parents who then make it stressful for the children, so it’s a vicious cycle. We do a Children’s Mindlinx Multinutrient which is more specific to those with behavioural problems so it contains more magnesium to have that calming effect on the nervous system and more B vitamins for mood and the nervous system.”
Food for thought?
Although many organic children’s brands offer baby foods and snacks, few produce healthy meals for older kids. One such brand, Miniscoff, has developed a range of frozen hand-cooked organic ready-meals.
“There are a huge number of people crying out for something trustworthy,” says co-founder, Angus Oliphant. “We are trying to reverse the perceptions of frozen and ready-meals at the same time – it’s a bit of a tall order but we feel that it’s moving in the right direction.”
“We’re trying to say it’s not just about filling up a child, you’ve got to feed them well. This is the frontline of healthcare. You are just making problems for yourself down the line if you feed children too many synthetic, over-processed foods.”
Miniscoff’s range includes frozen meals like Broccoli Bill’s Pasta Pie, Curly Wurly Chicken and Chilli Yum
Yum, as well as pasta sauces such as Chicken & Bacon Sauce and West Country Cheddar Sauce.
Ella’s Kitchen also offers healthy organic meals for toddlers, including All Aboard Chicken Paella and Brrooom Brrooom Bolognese Bake.
ABC forms part of a brand new range of combination remedies with indications from Helios Homeopathy. ABC contains three homeopathic remedies Aconite, Belladonna and Chamomilla traditionally used to relieve minor fevers and earache in children and teething in infants and toddlers. Attractively packaged for on shelf appeal the remedy comes in lactose free, sucrose pill form in our easy to use single dose dispenser. Remedies for infants may be dissolved and administered in a little sterile water. Other remedies in the range cover, Sleep, Stress, Hay Fever and Injuries.
HayMax Kids Organic, Drug Free Allergen Barrier Balm
Hay Fever? 30% of UK kids do! We’ve been listening to parents and kids for a decade, and we know they love HayMax. However one question which keeps popping up from parents is- is it suitable for kids? To make HayMax instantly recognisable as suitable for kids, we created the ‘HayMax Kids’ packaging format. Eye catching, friendly and reassuring for parents. HayMax is a drug-free, non-drowsy and 100% certified organic way to trap over a third of pollen before it gets in when applied sparingly around the rim of the nostrils and bones of the eyes. Amazing margins and extensive marketing campaign.
Natures Aid® Smart Kidz range has been specifically designed for children aged 6 to 12 years old. The range includes; Multi-Vitamin & Minerals for Growth & Cognitive Function; Bone Support with Calcium & Vitamin D3; Immune Support with Elderberry; and Omega-3 for the Heart, Brain & Vision. The Smart Kidz range tastes great and contains no sugar, artificial flavours or colourings, providing parents with a healthier alternative to children’s gummies. In addition to the four liquids, Kidz Pro-5 is a daily microbiotic powder, providing 5 billion bacteria per serving for children aged 1 to 12 years old.
Udo’s Choice Junior Blend Microbiotics
Many parents turn to microbiotics to support the gut flora balance in their children. Udo’s Choice Junior Blend Microbiotics contain 5 billion cells* and 7 child-specific bacteria strains at an appropriate strength that have been specially chosen for children aged 5-15 years and are especially beneficial for a child’s healthy intestinal flora. Formulated to include the bifidobacteria B.bifidum and B.breve essential for the healthy development of a child’s digestive tract. To maintain healthy intestinal and oral flora – Take one capsule per day on a full stomach. *at time of manufacturer
Terranova’s Green Child Sneaky Greens Super-Shake
Terranova’s Green Child Sneaky Greens Super-Shake is a deeply nourishing blend of concentrated wholefood ingredients which provide your child a vast array of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals; dietary fibre; live enzymes; antioxidants; and a wide variety of phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, flavonoids, carotenoids. The main wholefoods in Sneaky Greens include 13 varieties of fresh freeze dried greens, veggies and berries (many of which are organic); lucuma fruit; wheatgrass juice and barley grass; and spirulina. The formulation is also boosted by three comprehensively researched strains of friendly microflora. 100% free from fillers, binders, flowing agents, colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and any other additives, vegan friendly.
Cleanmarine Krill Oil for Kids
Although many parents recognise the importance that omega 3 has on children’s brains, a lot struggle to get them to take fish oil capsules due to their taste and size. Cleanmarine has come to the rescue with a kid’s version of their popular krill oil capsules. Much smaller in size, they provide a superior form of Omega 3 to that found in fish oils. These small, easy to swallow capsules are sustainably and ethically sourced, better absorbed than fish oils and produce no fishy repeat! It is also available in citrus and orange burst flavour liquid form.
Pulsin’ Kids’ Fruity Oaty Bars
NEW Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars – The wise choice for lunch boxes! A healthy vegan snack for on-the-go kids and a tasty way to liven up lunch boxes, Pulsin’ Kids’ Fruity Oat Bars have reduced sugar and are lovingly created for children in three scrumptious flavours. Made with a nut free recipe, the bars count as one of your child’s five a day, are gluten free, dairy free and soya free with no artificial ingredients. They are available as a multipack of 6x25g bars and come in Strawberry, Blackcurrant & Apple and Orange Choc Chip variants.
The Ultimate Kids probiotic!
Ultimate Flora For Kids contains a guaranteed 10 billion & 9 strains of live bacteria in each chewable. It is the highest, most targeted children’s probiotic available with 4.5 billion Lactobacilli and 5.5 billion Bifidobacteria mirroring vital friendly bacteria found in healthy children. It contains the highest amounts of Bifidobacterium infantis and Bifidobacterium bifidum on the market. Research shows that when children are lacking in these important probiotic strains they can suffer from allergies, intolerances, skin issues, poor absorption of nutrients, digestive problems and immunity issues. Recommended after antibiotics. Free from sugar, dairy, soy & gluten. Age 2+
Manuka Health Manuka Honey Kids Syrup
Manuka Honey Kids Syrup has been specially formulated for children over 12 months of age, using 100% natural source ingredients. This synergistic combination of unique New Zealand MGO™ 250+ Manuka Honey, Rewarewa Honey and herbal extracts (thyme essential oil, peppermint essential oil, liquorice block juice) traditionally used for their expectorant properties naturally soothes and supports for winter wellbeing. Manuka Health’s MGOTM 250+ Manuka Honey has been tested and certified to contain at least 250mg/kg of Dietary Methylglyoxal. The Kid’s Syrup has a sweet liquorice flavour. Take all the year around or as required in the winter season.
Nature’s Answer Sambucus Kid’s Formula
Nature’s Answer Sambucus Kid’s Formula offers concentrated extract of black elderberry juice (1862mg) infused with echinacea, astragalus root extract ans red raspberry juice concentrated extract. Gluten-free, alcohol-free formula, sweetened with organic agave syrup. Nature’s Answer are the pioneers of alcohol free and low alcohol liquid herbal extracts and have one of the most comprehensive herbariums in the world. Using carefully-controlled extraction techniques, Nature’s Answer capture the holistic balance of each herb and ensure that this is passed on through the product.
Fit for School chewable tablets
ProVen Probiotics’Fit for School chewable tablets have been developed specifically for children with a natural strawberry flavour. The tablets are suitable for vegetarians and vegans and are gluten and dairy free. Available in Boots and leading pharmacies and healthfood stores, each tablet contains 12.5 billion of the unique research-backed Lab4 Acidophilus and Bifidus friendly bacteria, combined with vitamin C and prebiotics, to help maintain immune function and general wellbeing. Clinical research has shown that when children took ProVen Fit for School daily for six months during school term time, absenteeism due to coughs and colds was reduced by 30%.