Nutrient deficiencies in kids are much more common than we think- it can be difficult to tell if our children are consuming the nutrients they need on a daily basis! With toddlers especially, children tend to gravitate towards processed foods that lack essential nutrients like vitamin C and fiber, found in fruits and vegetables. The trickiest part of all is that even if your children are consuming fruits and veggies not everything they eat is absorbed. Each kid’s gut microbiome dictates most of the absorption of nutrients as it moves through their digestive track. And further, the gut microbiome is changed by the foods your child eats. This makes an ongoing cycle seem endless, but when you optimize your child’s nutrition by focusing on vitamins, minerals, and fiber you can support both their diet and gut microbiome.
In an interesting study on around 100 school aged children, scientists found that kids considered high risk for developing behavioral disorders consumed less of their daily nutrient needs.1 For example, vitamin C consumption was only at 65.5% of daily needs, and calcium was consumed at only 60% of needs.1 Further research is necessary to determine if other nutrients are directly effecting behavior in this case, but the current evidence strongly suggests that children who eat less whole foods and more processed foods are those who also are at risk for poor behavioral outcomes.
Vitamin D is another nutrient that can be a big determinant of mood. Have you ever gone outside on a sunny summer day and after about 10 minutes felt a lift in your mood? That’s vitamin D being created through UVB rays by our skin! Unfortunately, not everyone can live somewhere sunny year-round, and our kids are feeling the consequences of insufficient amounts of vitamin D. Early stages of research revealed that vitamin D supplementation could increase levels of serotonin.2 Although anecdotal, you child may benefit from including vitamin D found in foods, like fortified milk into their diet.
Finally, children with nutrient deficiencies and behavioral challenges are found to often lacking food with fiber in their diet. Fiber has a direct relationship to the probiotics living in our gut. Fiber is the main food source of these bacteria because our bodies cannot digest fiber alone. Fiber passes through the upper part of digestive tract and survives until bacteria are there to break it down. This not only keeps the gut happy, but it also has a direct effect on mood and behavior. The gut-brain connection has been studied for years and has been found to have direct correlation with diet, species of bacteria, and mental health. Prebiotic fiber specifically has been shown to be the best forms of food for your gut microbiome… and rightfully so! It is a supplemented form of fiber that can help restore the health of their gut, and ultimately get to the root cause of their behavioral challenges. Growing Up Prebiotics by Begin Health include the prebiotic Human Milk Oligosaccharide, a prebiotic identical to the prebiotic you find in breast milk + 3g of prebiotic fiber from Chicory Root Fiber. This combination of ingredients supports your child’s gut flora giving them a head start to a healthy gut and a happy mind.
1. Kim, Y., & Chang, H. (2011). Correlation between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sugar consumption, quality of diet, and dietary behavior in school children. Nutrition Research and Practice, 5(3), 236. https://doi.org/10.4162/nrp.2011.5.3.236
2. Huiberts, L. M., & Smolders, K. C. H. J. (2021). Effects of vitamin D on mood and sleep in the healthy population: Interpretations from the serotonergic pathway. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 55, 101379. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101379