Reviewed by Physician Vong U Chan and Dr Eki Wari on May 10, 2022
Best Children’s Health Supplements For Growing Minds And Bodies
Published | 5 min read
Many parents are bombarded with advertisements for children's health supplements every time they look at their phones, but which ones are best (and safe) to give your kids? Find out here.
As a parent, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to children’s health supplements.
You may want to support your child’s growth and development, but you’re not sure what supplements are safe for kids or if they even work.
In this guide, our Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician weighs in on the importance of supporting your child’s health.
We’ll also highlight some of the best children’s health supplements and easy ways to add them to your child’s diet.
Do Children Need Health Supplements?
Children are young and presumed to be healthy. Despite this, their growing and developing bodies may need additional nutrients to achieve optimum functioning.
The role of TCM in children’s health
“According to TCM, the anatomy and physiology of a child’s organs and systems including their Qi, Blood, jing, and jingye (body fluids) are still immature and developing, not yet at the optimal level,” stated TCM Physician Vong U Chan.
”Basically, the children’s Yin functions – referring to their Jing, Blood, body fluid, internal organs, tendons, bones, brain, muscles, skin, pulse, etc. that have a physical form – and their Yang functions – referring to the physiological functions of all their Yin functions – are still underdeveloped, fragile and often do not operate at full health capacity,” Physician Vong explained.
Physician Vong continued, “Though the form and Qi of children’s internal organs are often lacking and in deficit, the most common problem is a weak Spleen. Given the rapid pace at which children develop, they require larger nutritional needs. However, a weak Spleen can often result in a heavy burden on their digestive system. Hence, children often display Spleen-related deficiencies. Thus, the most important area to focus on is their Spleen.”
“In TCM, the Spleen is central to digestion and is a vital organ. As the foundation of health depends on a person’s Qi and Blood, it is important to take care of the Spleen since it is responsible for digesting food to turn it into nutrients that form the Qi and Blood.”
Physician Vong concluded, “TCM can help to support a child’s growth and development by protecting and nurturing their Spleen and digestive system. With Qi and Blood in abundance, a child will develop strong immunity and grow up well.”
Best Children’s Teas, Soups, and Health Supplements
It’s not always easy to convince kids to take a supplement. Therefore, finding an administration method that works for your child is important. Soup is always a good option as it can be given to your child in the form of a tasty meal.
Herbal soups and teas
According to Physician Vong, herbs that help strengthen the Spleen and increase Qi can be added to soups. These include Poria (Fu Ling), White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu), Euryale seeds (Qian Shi), Coix barley (Yi Yi Ren), Astragalus root (Huang Qi), and Chinese yam (Huai Shan).
Chinese yam, in particular, can be consumed daily as a food supplement as it helps improve digestion. Here are some other soups to consider:
- Four Spirits soup: This soup comprises Poria (Fu Ling), Chinese Yam (Huai Shan), Lotus Seeds (Lian Zi), and Fox Nuts (Qian Shi). It’s a traditional soup recipe that improves appetite and strengthens the Spleen and Kidneys.
- Six Combination soup: Made with Rhizoma Polygonati Odorati (Fragrant Solomonseal Rhizome), Lily Bulb (Bai He), Lotus Seed (Lian Zi), Chinese Yam (Huai Shan), Fox Nuts (Qian Shi), and Dried Longan (Long Yan). This soup can strengthen the Spleen and Kidneys, improve digestion, and get rid of excess Heat in the body.
- Malted rice (Gu Ya), malt (Mai Ya), and hawthorn (Shan Zha) soup: This soup is gentle and suitable for all ages to aid in digestion. During ingestion, this can be taken once a day for 2 to 3 consecutive days, together with a meatless diet during this period. On normal days when the child is well, this soup can be taken once a week – together with a meatless diet one day per week, too.
As children are prone to indigestion, there are some children-friendly herbal teas to help calm their digestion system, thereby helping them to sleep better. Look for teas that are sugar-free or sweetened with raw honey to improve the taste.
However, it should be noted that children who are one year old and younger should not be given honey. Always consult with your child’s doctor or a registered TCM physician before giving your child any supplements.
Powder or encapsulated supplements
If your child isn’t a fan of soup, there are other ways you can give them health supplements that support their well-being.
For example, many supplements, especially probiotics, come in powder or capsule form. These can be broken apart and added to your child’s milk, smoothies, cereal, or yogurt.
Research shows that probiotics can help alleviate gastroenteritis and prevent diarrhea in children. They have also been shown to reduce the severity of autism spectrum disorders.
Always be sure to add a probiotic supplement to cold foods (such as milk or yogurt) as hot foods may kill off the beneficial bacteria.
Liquid supplements and gummies
Health supplements that come in liquid or gummy form are often easier to give your child because they taste better.
If you choose to give your child a gummy multivitamin, make sure it’s low in sugar. Many children’s multivitamins are high in sugar and do not provide adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it’s often better to feed your child a well-balanced diet rather than rely on a sugary supplement.
For example, a liquid kid’s cough powder may be beneficial when they have a sore throat and congestion. In TCM, Pak Poh powder can be used when a child is sick with a persistent cough and yellow phlegm. It helps them sleep better, too. However, it is not suitable to be taken daily unless one has a fever or sore throat.
Children’s Health Supplements Precautions
Although your child may be young and healthy, adding certain health supplements to their diet can help them grow up strong.
Keep in mind that children’s bodies and immune systems are not yet fully developed. TCM can help support your child’s digestive system and Spleen to ensure proper nutrient absorption, growth, and development.
However, you should always consult with your child’s pediatrician or a TCM physician before giving your child any supplements. This is especially true if your child is currently taking any medication.
- United Family Healthcare. 2014. TCM Nutrition Benefits For Kids.
- Nutrients. 2021. Probiotics in Pediatrics. A Review and Practical Guide.
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020. The Promising Role of Probiotics in Managing the Altered Gut in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
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