We are going to spend a few weeks on vitamins because there are so many out there! Today, I want to start with supplements for teens as this is easy.
Children and teens are great at getting the majority of what they need from the foods they normally eat along with a good multivitamin. The exception enters the equation when a child is heavily involved in a sporting activity and has a rigorous training schedule. Also, if the family is on a gluten-free or paleo diet, or any diet that is selective in food categories, the teen may not be getting necessary vitamins or minerals.
Teens with a robust training schedule need iron. Teens often drink truckloads of milk. However, milk interferes with the absorption of iron. If you have an active milk-guzzling teen who does not really care for meat, this can create a perfect storm of iron depletion. I experienced this firsthand with my teen who is a competitive rower. Her winter training schedule kicked in and it became more and more difficult to wake her in the morning. We went to her pediatrician (eventually), and she presented with lethargy, fast heart rate, and pallor. Fortunately, her pediatrician is a great diagnostician and did not settle for simply checking her hemoglobin, which was normal. The problem was in her ferritin levels. Ferritin is the iron storage system in the body. Her body was doing everything it could to keep the system as intact as possible which was why her hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were fine. Low ferritin levels are common in young athletes according to our pediatrician. Fortunately, this was an easy fix. She was put on supplemental iron for a few weeks, and she now takes a multivitamin with iron daily. She eats more meat, drinks less milk and more water.
Spring sports are beginning, so this is a great time to make sure your young athlete is well fed, and taking a good multivitamin…with iron as necessary!
We will begin our adult supplements review next week.
Healthy living with John Hollis Pharmacy!