This article on dietary supplements is part of a series on teenage nutrition. You can read the introduction to this series from these two articles “What Is On Your Family’s Breakfast Plate” and “Teenage Nutrition: Why You Should Pick This Battle For Your Adolescent.” We are very excited to bring you this and hope you feel comfortable to add your own thoughts, tips and suggestions.
Teen Nutrition: Is Your Teen Taking A Nutritional Supplement? The Extra Ingredients Maybe Hard To Swallow
- Mrs. Brown was a concerned parent and worried about her daughter’s lack of calcium in her diet. She knew her daughter wasn’t eating and drinking enough dairy products rich in calcium. She decided to supplement her daughter’s diet with a calcium pill.
- Mr. Beauvais was an educated parent ‘on all health issues’ for his two teen boys and wanted to give them that extra brain power to have an intellectual advantage. He knew that omega 3 fish oils gave the best dose of this powerful fatty acid but his boys didn’t like to eat fish. He decided to give them daily fish oil dietary supplements.
- Mr. and Mrs. Williet took care of their twin teenage grand kids three times a week and were concerned about the lack of fruits and vegetables in their grand children’s diets. With the parent’s okay, they decided to give a multi-vitamin to their grandchildren on the days they watched them.
Do any of these stories sound familiar? Do you also give your teen a dietary supplement? What you may not know is that the label doesn’t show the extra ingredients in these supplements. Some which harm your teenager more than bringing them good nutrition. Why?
Some fish oil, calcium and multivitamin supplements contain environmental toxins such as phthalates, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB’s) and pesticides.
Why these dietary supplements can be harmful to humans
Certain dietary supplements contain environmental toxins that have not been eliminated from the source it is being taken from. Some toxins are added in as a filler to synthetic vitamins.
- Calcium supplements can contain lead or other toxic metals if prepared from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal or dolomite.
- Fish oils can contain Polychlorinated Biphenyls when taken from fish that are from unpure waters.
- Multivitamins can contain magnesium stearate, a filler than may be contaminated with pesticides or other environmental toxins.
Environmental toxins can affect every system of the human body. The negative consequences of these environmental toxins on our health is well established. These effects depend on our age, genetics, dose, toxin type.
The teenage period, particularly during puberty, is a critical time to avoid environmental toxins.
The relationship between environmental toxins, endocrine disruptors and teenagers.
After infancy, the teenage years are a big growth period and it is the most susceptible stage for hormone endocrine disruptors. The teenage puberty stage indicates a start in the hormone process leading towards a reproductive young adult.
The endocrine (hormone system) is extremely complex and environmental stimuli can affect the puberty process. Hormones are regulated thru a feedback system and it is believe that exogenous environmental toxins can compete with the body’s endogenous hormones produced inside the teenager. Breast development in boys, sterility sperm issues in men, periods starting earlier in girls could be linked to endocrine disruptors. For more details on this, read an article published here on “Are Environmental Endocrine Disruptors Changing A Natural Puberty?”
Should nutrition supplements be regulated by the FDA?
Do you think that dietary supplements should be regulated by the Federal Department of Agriculture like other foods are? Is your government regulating nutritional and food supplements where you live?
In America, the FDA is responsible for
“taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement after it reaches market.”
Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the dietary supplement or dietary ingredient manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement or ingredient is safe before it is marketed. FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. Generally, manufacturers do not need to register their products with FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements. (From FDA website-see link here)
But the wording gets tricky:
Manufacturers must make sure that product label information is truthful and not misleading.
Sometimes it is up to the public to take action against a particular dietary supplement. Dietary fish oil supplements containing PCBs is exactly the type of case where “product label information was not truthful.”
Even when a fish oil supplement was labeled to be toxin and PCB free, it wasn’t, as seen by this California court case, “Omega 3 supplements contain industrial contaminants.”
Should the answer be no nutritional supplements for teens?
The best solution to meet a teenager’s increasing nutritional needs is through a good diet with real foods. If this is not possible then read on!
In the ideal world all teenagers would eat healthy highly balanced fresh foods in their daily diet. Since this isn’t normally the case, teens may need a dietary supplement. In fact, your doctor or dietitian may recommend a calcium, iron or multi-vitamin for your child.
If your teen needs a dietary supplement to meet their dietary goals then it is time to find them a good nutritional supplement.
The issue is normally cost. How tempting it is to pick up those less expensive brands that are available for only a few dollars. Go for quality, do some research on buying the best you can afford.
The teen years, especially during the peak puberty times are the most susceptible to environmental toxin damage. The right nutritional supplement for your teen may cost a few more dollars, but this can be the right decision.
How to pick the best nutritional supplement for your teenager
- Get your supplements from a well-established company with a reputation for quality.
- Choose supplements from companies who use third-party independent labs to ensure quality control and no environmental contaminants.
- Look for labels that state “purified” or have the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol.
- Buy supplements that give the source of the product.
- Buy fish oil supplements from short-lived fish: sardine, anchovy and mackerel. Do not buy supplements from salmon, cod and tuna. These are large fish and they accumulate toxins over their life span.
Here is a great article that contains even more details on picking the right dietary supplement. “A Dangerous Ingredient In Your Supplements.”
Here are some articles published from this series on teenage nutrition. Feel free to click on the links here:
Teenagers and Energy Drinks, Teens and Endocrine Disruptors, Teens and Eating Disorders, Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Teens, Teens and Caffeine, Importance of Good Nutrition in Teens,Vegetarianism in Teens. and Hormone Changes in Teens Affect Their Smell.
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